The Mystery of the Yellow Room
Part 4 out of 5
which, as you know, I entered. I found there under their bed, some
springs and brass wire. 'Ah!' I thought, 'these things explain why
they were out in the park at night!' I was not surprised at the
dogged silence they maintained before the examining magistrate, even
under the accusation so grave as that of being accomplices in the
crime. Poaching would save them from the Assize Court, but it would
lose them their places; and, as they were perfectly sure of their
innocence of the crime they hoped it would soon be established, and
then their poaching might go on as usual. They could always confess
later. I, however, hastened their confession by means of the
document Monsieur Stangerson signed. They gave all the necessary
'proofs,' were set at liberty, and have now a lively gratitude for me.
Why did I not get them released sooner? Because I was not sure that
nothing more than poaching was against them. I wanted to study the
ground. As the days went by, my conviction became more and more
certain. The day after the events of the inexplicable gallery I had
need of help I could rely on, so I resolved to have them released
That was how Joseph Rouletabille explained himself. Once more I
could not but be astonished at the simplicity of the reasoning which
had brought him to the truth of the matter. Certainly this was no
big thing; but I think, myself, that the young man will, one of
these days, explain with the same simplicity, the fearful tragedy
in The Yellow Room as well as the phenomenon of the inexplicable
We reached the Donjon Inn and entered it.
This time we did not see the landlord, but were received with a
pleasant smile by the hostess. I have already described the room
in which we found ourselves, and I have given a glimpse of the
charming blonde woman with the gentle eyes who now immediately began
to prepare our breakfast.
"How's Daddy Mathieu?" asked Rouletabille.
"Not much better--not much better; he is still confined to his bed."
"His rheumatism still sticks to him, then?"
"Yes. Last night I was again obliged to give him morphine--the
only drug that gives him any relief."
She spoke in a soft voice. Everything about her expressed
gentleness. She was, indeed, a beautiful woman; somewhat with an
air of indolence, with great eyes seemingly black and blue--amorous
eyes. Was she happy with her crabbed, rheumatic husband? The scene
at which we had once been present did not lead us to believe that
she was; yet there was something in her bearing that was not
suggestive of despair. She disappeared into the kitchen to prepare
our repast, leaving on the table a bottle of excellent cider.
Rouletabille filled our earthenware mugs, loaded his pipe, and
quietly explained to me his reason for asking me to come to the
Glandier with revolvers.
"Yes," he said, contemplatively looking at the clouds of smoke he
was puffing out, "yes, my dear boy, I expect the assassin to-night."
A brief silence followed, which I took care not to interrupt, and
then he went on:
"Last night, just as I was going to bed, Monsieur Robert Darzac
knocked at my room. When he came in he confided to me that he was
compelled to go to Paris the next day, that is, this morning. The
reason which made this journey necessary was at once peremptory and
mysterious; it was not possible for him to explain its object to me.
'I go, and yet,' he added, 'I would give my life not to leave
Mademoiselle Stangerson at this moment.' He did not try to hide
that he believed her to be once more in danger. 'It will not
greatly astonish me if something happens to-morrow night,' he avowed,
'and yet I must be absent. I cannot be back at the Glandier before
the morning of the day after to-morrow.'
"I asked him to explain himself, and this is all he would tell me.
His anticipation of coming danger had come to him solely from the
coincidence that Mademoiselle Stangerson had been twice attacked,
and both times when he had been absent. On the night of the incident
of the inexplicable gallery he had been obliged to be away from the
Glandier. On the night of the tragedy in The Yellow Room he had
also not been able to be at the Glandier, though this was the first
time he had declared himself on the matter. Now a man so moved who
would still go away must be acting under compulsion--must be obeying
a will stronger than his own. That was how I reasoned, and I told
him so. He replied 'Perhaps.'--I asked him if Mademoiselle
Stangerson was compelling him. He protested that she was not. His
determination to go to Paris had been taken without any conference
with Mademoiselle Stangerson.
"To cut the story short, he repeated that his belief in the
possibility of a fresh attack was founded entirely on the
extraordinary coincidence. 'If anything happens to Mademoiselle
Stangerson,' he said, 'it would be terrible for both of us. For her,
because her life would be in danger; for me because I could neither
defend her from the attack nor tell of where I had been. I am
perfectly aware of the suspicions cast on me. The examining
magistrate and Monsieur Larsan are both on the point of believing
in my guilt. Larsan tracked me the last time I went to Paris, and
I had all the trouble in the world to get rid of him.'
"'Why do you not tell me the name of the murderer now, if you know
it?' I cried.
"Monsieur Darzac appeared extremely troubled by my question, and
replied to me in a hesitating tone:
"'I?--I know the name of the murderer? Why, how could I know
"I at once replied: 'From Mademoiselle Stangerson.'
"He grew so pale that I thought he was about to faint, and I saw
that I had hit the nail right on the head. Mademoiselle and he
knew the name of the murderer! When he recovered himself, he said
to me: 'I am going to leave you. Since you have been here I have
appreciated your exceptional intelligence and your unequalled
ingenuity. But I ask this service of you. Perhaps I am wrong to
fear an attack during the coming night; but, as I must act with
foresight, I count on you to frustrate any attempt that may be made.
Take every step needful to protect Mademoiselle Stangerson. Keep a
most careful watch of her room. Don't go to sleep, nor allow
yourself one moment of repose. The man we dread is remarkably
cunning--with a cunning that has never been equalled. If you keep
watch his very cunning may save her; because it's impossible that
he should not know that you are watching; and knowing it, he may
"'Have you spoken of all this to Monsieur Stangerson?'
"'No. I do not wish him to ask me, as you just now did, for the
name of the murderer. I tell you all this, Monsieur Rouletabille,
because I have great, very great, confidence in you. I know that
you do not suspect me.'
"The poor man spoke in jerks. He was evidently suffering. I pitied
him, the more because I felt sure that he would rather allow himself
to be killed than tell me who the murderer was. As for Mademoiselle
Stangerson, I felt that she would rather allow herself to be murdered
than denounce the man of The Yellow Room and of the inexplicable
gallery. The man must be dominating her, or both, by some
inscrutable power. They were dreading nothing so much as the chance
of Monsieur Stangerson knowing that his daughter was 'held' by her
assailant. I made Monsieur Darzac understand that he had explained
himself sufficiently, and that he might refrain from telling me any
more than he had already told me. I promised him to watch through
the night. He insisted that I should establish an absolutely
impassable barrier around Mademoiselle Stangerson's chamber, around
the boudoir where the nurses were sleeping, and around the
drawing-room where, since the affair of the inexplicable gallery,
Monsieur Stangerson had slept. In short, I was to put a cordon
round the whole apartment.
"From his insistence I gathered that Monsieur Darzac intended not
only to make it impossible for the expected man to reach the chamber
of Mademoiselle Stangerson, but to make that impossibility so
visibly clear that, seeing himself expected, he would at once go
away. That was how I interpreted his final words when we parted:
'You may mention your suspicions of the expected attack to Monsieur
Stangerson, to Daddy Jacques, to Frederic Larsan, and to anybody in
"The poor fellow left me hardly knowing what he was saying. My
silence and my eyes told him that I had guessed a large part of his
secret. And, indeed, he must have been at his wits' end, to have
come to me at such a time, and to abandon Mademoiselle Stangerson
in spite of his fixed idea as to the consequence.
"When he was gone, I began to think that I should have to use even
a greater cunning than his so that if the man should come that
night, he might not for a moment suspect that his coming had been
expected. Certainly! I would allow him to get in far enough, so
that, dead or alive, I might see his face clearly! He must be got
rid of. Mademoiselle Stangerson must be freed from this continual
"Yes, my boy," said Rouletabille, after placing his pipe on the
table, and emptying his mug of cider, "I must see his face
distinctly, so as to make sure to impress it on that part of my
brain where I have drawn my circle of reasoning."
The landlady re-appeared at that moment, bringing in the
traditional bacon omelette. Rouletabille chaffed her a little, and
she took the chaff with the most charming good humour.
"She is much jollier when Daddy Mathieu is in bed with his
rheumatism," Rouletabille said to me.
But I had eyes neither for Rouletabille nor for the landlady's
smiles. I was entirely absorbed over the last words of my young
friend and in thinking over Monsieur Robert Darzac's strange
When he had finished his omelette and we were again alone,
Rouletabille continued the tale of his confidences.
"When I sent you my telegram this morning," he said, "I had only
the word of Monsieur Darzac, that 'perhaps' the assassin would
come to-night. I can now say that he will certainly come. I
"What has made you feel this certainty?"
"I have been sure since half-past ten o'clock this morning that he
would come. I knew that before we saw Arthur Rance at the window
in the court."
"Ah!" I said, "But, again--what made you so sure? And why since
half-past ten this morning?"
"Because, at half-past ten, I had proof that Mademoiselle Stangerson
was making as many efforts to permit of the murderer's entrance as
Monsieur Robert Darzac had taken precautions against it."
"Is that possible!" I cried. "Haven't you told me that Mademoiselle
Stangerson loves Monsieur Robert Darzac?"
"I told you so because it is the truth."
"Then do you see nothing strange--"
"Everything in this business is strange, my friend; but take my word
for it, the strangeness you now feel is nothing to the strangeness
that's to come!"
"It must be admitted, then," I said, "that Mademoiselle Stangerson
and her murderer are in communication--at any rate in writing?"
"Admit it, my friend, admit it! You don't risk anything! I told
you about the letter left on her table, on the night of the
inexplicable gallery affair,--the letter that disappeared into
the pocket of Mademoiselle Stangerson. Why should it not have been
a summons to a meeting? Might he not, as soon as he was sure of
Darzac's absence, appoint the meeting for 'the coming night?"
And my friend laughed silently. There are moments when I ask
myself if he is not laughing at me.
The door of the inn opened. Rouletabille was on his feet so
suddenly that one might have thought he had received an electric
"Mr. Arthur Rance!" he cried.
Mr. Arthur Rance stood before us calmly bowing.
An Act of Mademoiselle Stangerson
"You remember me, Monsieur?" asked Rouletabille.
"Perfectly!" replied Arthur Rance. "I recognise you as the lad at
the bar. [The face of Rouletabille crimsoned at being called a
"lad."] I want to shake hands with you. You are a bright little
The American extended his hand and Rouletabille, relaxing his frown,
shook it and introduced Mr. Arthur Rance to me. He invited him to
share our meal.
"No thanks. I breakfasted with Monsieur Stangerson."
Arthur Rance spoke French perfectly,--almost without an accent.
"I did not expect to have the pleasure of seeing you again,
Monsieur. I thought you were to have left France the day after the
reception at the Elysee."
Rouletabille and I, outwardly indifferent, listened most intently
for every word the American would say.
The man's purplish red face, his heavy eyelids, the nervous
twitchings, all spoke of his addiction to drink. How came it that
so sorry a specimen of a man should be so intimate with Monsieur
Some days later, I learned from Frederic Larsan--who, like
ourselves, was surprised and mystified by his appearance and
reception at the chateau--that Mr. Rance had been an inebriate
for only about fifteen years; that is to say, since the professor
and his daughter left Philadelphia. During the time the Stangersons
lived in America they were very intimate with Arthur Rance, who was
one of the most distinguished phrenologists of the new world. Owing
to new experiments, he had made enormous strides beyond the science
of Gall and Lavater. The friendliness with which he was received at
the Glandier may be explained by the fact that he had once rendered
Mademoiselle Stangerson a great service by stopping, at the peril of
his own life, the runaway horses of her carriage. The immediate
result of that could, however, have been no more than a mere
friendly association with the Stangersons; certainly, not a love
Frederic Larsan did not tell me where he had picked up this
information; but he appeared to be quite sure of what he said.
Had we known these facts at the time Arthur Rance met us at the
Donjon Inn, his presence at the chateau might not have puzzled us,
but they could not have failed to increase our interest in the man
himself. The American must have been at least forty-five years old.
He spoke in a perfectly natural tone in reply to Rouletabille's
"I put off my return to America when I heard of the attack on
Mademoiselle Stangerson. I wanted to be certain the lady had not
been killed, and I shall not go away until she is perfectly
Arthur Rance then took the lead in talk, paying no heed to some of
Rouletabille's questions. He gave us, without our inviting him, his
personal views on the subject of the tragedy,--views which, as well
as I could make out, were not far from those held by Frederic Larzan.
The American also thought that Robert Darzac had something to do
with the matter. He did not mention him by name, but there was no
room to doubt whom he meant. He told us he was aware of the efforts
young Rouletabille was making to unravel the tangled skein of The
Yellow Room mystery. He explained that Monsieur Stangerson had
related to him all that had taken place in the inexplicable gallery.
He several times expressed his regret at Monsieur Darzac's absence
from the chateau on all these occasions, and thought that Monsieur
Darzac had done cleverly in allying himself with Monsieur Joseph
Rouletabille, who could not fail, sooner or later, to discover the
murderer. He spoke the last sentence with unconcealed irony. Then
he rose, bowed to us, and left the inn.
Rouletabille watched him through the window.
"An odd fish, that!" he said.
"Do you think he'll pass the night at the Glandier?" I asked.
To my amazement the young reporter answered that it was a matter
of entire indifference to him whether he did or not.
As to how we spent our time during the afternoon, all I need say is
that Rouletabille led me to the grotto of Sainte-Genevieve, and, all
the time, talked of every subject but the one in which we were most
interested. Towards evening I was surprised to find Rouletabille
making none of the preparations I had expected him to make. I spoke
to him about it when night had come on, and we were once more in his
room. He replied that all his arrangements had already been made,
and this time the murderer would not get away from him.
I expressed some doubt on this, reminding him of his disappearance
in the gallery, and suggested that the same phenomenon might occur
again. He answered that he hoped it would. He desired nothing more.
I did not insist, knowing by experience how useless that would have
been. He told me that, with the help of the concierges, the chateau
had since early dawn been watched in such a way that nobody could
approach it without his knowing it, and that he had no concern for
those who might have left it and remained without.
It was then six o'clock by his watch. Rising, he made a sign to
me to follow him, and, without in the least tying to conceal his
movements or the sound of his footsteps, he led me through the
gallery. We reached the 'right' gallery and came to the
landing-place which we crossed. We then continued our way in the
gallery of the left wing, passing Professor Stangerson's apartment.
At the far end of the gallery, before coming to the donjon, is the
room occupied by Arthur Rance. We knew that, because we had seen
him at the window looking on to the court. The door of the room
opens on to the end of the gallery, exactly facing the east window,
at the extremity of the 'right' gallery, where Rouletabille had
placed Daddy Jacques, and commands an uninterrupted view of the
gallery from end to end of the chateau.
"That 'off-turning' gallery," said Rouletabille, "I reserve for
myself; when I tell you you'll come and take your place here."
And he made me enter a little dark, triangular closet built in a
bend of the wall, to the left of the door of Arthur Rance's room.
From this recess I could see all that occurred in the gallery as
well as if I had been standing in front of Arthur Rance's door,
and I could watch that door, too. The door of the closet, which
was to be my place of observation, was fitted with panels of
transparent glass. In the gallery, where all the lamps had been
lit, it was quite light. In the closet, however, it was quite
dark. It was a splendid place from which to observe and remain
I was soon to play the part of a spy--a common policeman. I
wonder what my leader at the bar would have said had he known! I
was not altogether pleased with my duties, but I could not refuse
Rouletabille the assistance he had begged me to give him. I took
care not to make him see that I in the least objected, and for
several reasons. I wanted to oblige him; I did not wish him to
think me a coward; I was filled with curiosity; and it was too late
for me to draw back, even had I determined to do so. That I had
not had these scruples sooner was because my curiosity had quite
got the better of me. I might also urge that I was helping to
save the life of a woman, and even a lawyer may do that
We returned along the gallery. On reaching the door of Mademoiselle
Stangerson's apartment, it opened from a push given by the steward
who was waiting at the dinner-table. (Monsieur Stangerson had, for
the last three days, dined with his daughter in the drawing-room on
the first floor.) As the door remained open, we distinctly saw
Mademoiselle Stangerson, taking advantage of the steward's absence,
and while her father was stooping to pick up something he had let
fall, pour the contents of a phial into Monsieur Stangerson's glass.
On the Watch
The act, which staggered me, did not appear to affect Rouletabille
much. We returned to his room and, without even referring to what
we had seen, he gave me his final instructions for the night. First
we were to go to dinner; after dinner, I was to take my stand in the
dark closet and wait there as long as it was necessary--to look out
for what might happen.
"If you see anything before I do," he explained, "you must let me
know. If the man gets into the 'right' gallery by any other way
than the 'off-turning' gallery, you will see him before I shall,
because you have a view along the whole length of the 'right'
gallery, while I can only command a view of the 'off-turning'
gallery. All you need do to let me know is to undo the cord holding
the curtain of the 'right' gallery window, nearest to the dark
closet. The curtain will fall of itself and immediately leave a
square of shadow where previously there had been a square of light.
To do this, you need but stretch your hand out of the closet, I
shall understand your signal perfectly."
"Then you will see me coming round the corner of the 'off-turning'
"What am I to do then?"
"You will immediately come towards me, behind the man; but I shall
already be upon him, and shall have seen his face."
I attempted a feeble smile.
"Why do you smile? Well, you may smile while you have the chance,
but I swear you'll have no time for that a few hours from now.
"And if the man escapes?"
"So much the better," said Rouletabille, coolly, "I don't want to
capture him. He may take himself off any way he can. I will let
him go--after I have seen his face. That's all I want. I shall
know afterwards what to do so that as far as Mademoiselle Stangerson
is concerned he shall be dead to her even though he continues to
live. If I took him alive, Mademoiselle Stangerson and Robert
Darzac would, perhaps, never forgive me! And I wish to retain their
good-will and respect.
"Seeing, as I have just now seen, Mademoiselle Stangerson pour a
narcotic into her father's glass, so that he might not be awake to
interrupt the conversation she is going to have with her murderer,
you can imagine she would not be grateful to me if I brought the
man of The Yellow Room and the inexplicable gallery, bound and gagged,
to her father. I realise now that if I am to save the unhappy lady,
I must silence the man and not capture him. To kill a human being
is no small thing. Besides, that's not my business, unless the
man himself makes it my business. On the other hand, to render him
forever silent without the lady's assent and confidence is to act
on one's own initiative and assumes a knowledge of everything with
nothing for a basis. Fortunately, my friend, I have guessed, no,
I have reasoned it all out. All that I ask of the man who is coming
to-night is to bring me his face, so that it may enter--"
"Into the circle?"
"Exactly! And his face won't surprise me!"
"But I thought you saw his face on the night when you sprang into
"Only imperfectly. The candle was on the floor; and, his beard--"
"Will he wear his beard this evening?"
"I think I can say for certain that he will. But the gallery is
light and, now, I know--or--at least, my brain knows--and my
eyes will see."
"If we are here only to see him and let him escape, why are we armed?"
"Because, if the man of The Yellow Room and the inexplicable gallery
knows that I know, he is capable of doing anything! We should then
have to defend ourselves."
"And you are sure he will come to-night?"
"As sure as that you are standing there! This morning, at half-past
ten o'clock, Mademoiselle Stangerson, in the cleverest way in the
world, arranged to have no nurses to-night. She gave them leave of
absence for twenty-four hours, under some plausible pretexts, and
did not desire anybody to be with her but her father, while they
are away. Her father, who is to sleep in the boudoir, has gladly
consented to the arrangement. Darzac's departure and what he told
me, as well as the extraordinary precautions Mademoiselle Stangerson
is taking to be alone to-night leaves me no room for doubt. She has
prepared the way for the coming of the man whom Darzac dreads."
"And what we saw her do was done to send her father to sleep?"
"Then there are but two of us for to-night's work?"
"Four; the concierge and his wife will watch at all hazards. I
don't set much value on them before--but the concierge may be
useful after--if there's to be any killing!"
"Then you think there may be?"
"If he wishes it."
"Why haven't you brought in Daddy Jacques?--Have you made no use
of him to-day?"
"No," replied Rouletabille sharply.
I kept silence for awhile, then, anxious to know his thoughts, I
asked him point blank:
"Why not tell Arthur Rance?--He may be of great assistance to us?"
"Oh!" said Rouletabille crossly, "then you want to let everybody
into Mademoiselle Stangerson's secrets?--Come, let us go to dinner;
it is time. This evening we dine in Frederic Larsan's room,--at
least, if he is not on the heels of Darzac. He sticks to him like
a leech. But, anyhow, if he is not there now, I am quite sure he
will be, to-night! He's the one I am going to knock over!"
At this moment we heard a noise in the room near us.
"It must be he," said Rouletabille.
"I forgot to ask you," I said, "if we are to make any allusion to
to-night's business when we are with this policeman. I take it we
are not. Is that so?"
"Evidently. We are going to operate alone, on our own personal
"So that all the glory will be ours?"
We dined with Frederic Larsan in his room. He told us he had just
come in and invited us to be seated at table. We ate our dinner in
the best of humours, and I had no difficulty in appreciating the
feelings of certainty which both Rouletabille and Larsan felt.
Rouletabille told the great Fred that I had come on a chance visit,
and that he had asked me to stay and help him in the heavy batch of
writing he had to get through for the "Epoque." I was going back
to Paris, he said, by the eleven o'clock train, taking his "copy,"
which took a story form, recounting the principal episodes in the
mysteries of the Glandier. Larsan smiled at the explanation like
a man who was not fooled and politely refrains from making the
slightest remark on matters which did not concern him.
With infinite precautions as to the words they used, and even as to
the tones of their voices, Larsan and Rouletabille discussed, for a
long time, Mr. Arthur Rance's appearance at the chateau, and his
past in America, about which they expressed a desire to know more,
at any rate, so far as his relations with the Stangersons. At one
time, Larsan, who appeared to me to be unwell, said, with an effort:
"I think, Monsieur Rouletabille, that we've not much more to do at
the Glandier, and that we sha'n't sleep here many more nights."
"I think so, too, Monsieur Fred."
"Then you think the conclusion of the matter has been reached?"
"I think, indeed, that we have nothing more to find out," replied
"Have you found your criminal?" asked Larsan.
"So have I," said Rouletabille.
"Can it be the same man?"
"I don't know if you have swerved from your original idea," said
the young reporter. Then he added, with emphasis: "Monsieur Darzac
is an honest man!"
"Are you sure of that?" asked Larsan. "Well, I am sure he is not.
So it's a fight then?"
"Yes, it is a fight. But I shall beat you, Monsieur Frederic Larsan."
"Youth never doubts anything," said the great Fred laughingly, and
held out his hand to me by way of conclusion.
Rouletabille's answer came like an echo:
Suddenly Larsan, who had risen to wish us goodnight, pressed both
his hands to his chest and staggered. He was obliged to lean on
Rouletabille for support, and to save himself from falling.
"Oh! Oh!" he cried. "What is the matter with me?--Have I been
He looked at us with haggard eyes. We questioned him vainly; he
did not answer us. He had sunk into an armchair and we could get
not a word from him. We were extremely distressed, both on his
account and on our own, for we had partaken of all the dishes he had
eaten. He seemed to be out of pain; but his heavy head had fallen
on his shoulder and his eyelids were tightly closed. Rouletabille
bent over him, listening for the beatings of the heart.
My friend's face, however, when he stood up, was as calm as it had
been a moment before agitated.
"He is asleep," he said.
He led me to his chamber, after closing Larsan's room.
"The drug?" I asked. "Does Mademoiselle Stangerson wish to put
everybody to sleep, to-night?"
"Perhaps," replied Rouletabille; but I could see he was thinking of
"But what about us?" I exclaimed. "How do we know that we have not
"Do you feel indisposed?" Rouletabille asked me coolly.
"Not in the least."
"Do you feel any inclination to go to sleep?"
"Well, then, my friend, smoke this excellent cigar."
And he handed me a choice Havana, one Monsieur Darzac had given him,
while he lit his briarwood--his eternal briarwood.
We remained in his room until about ten o'clock without a word
passing between us. Buried in an armchair Rouletabille sat and
smoked steadily, his brow in thought and a far-away look in his
eyes. On the stroke of ten he took off his boots and signalled to
me to do the same. As we stood in our socks he said, in so low a
tone that I guessed, rather than heard, the word:
I drew my revolver from my jacket pocket.
"Cock it!" he said.
I did as he directed.
Then moving towards the door of his room, he opened it with infinite
precaution; it made no sound. We were in the "off-turning" gallery.
Rouletabille made another sign to me which I understood to mean that
I was to take up my post in the dark closet.
When I was some distance from him, he rejoined me and embraced me;
and then I saw him, with the same precaution, return to his room.
Astonished by his embrace, and somewhat disquieted by it, I arrived
at the right gallery without difficulty, crossing the landing-place,
and reaching the dark closet.
Before entering it I examined the curtain-cord of the window and
found that I had only to release it from its fastening with my
fingers for the curtain to fall by its own weight and hide the
square of light from Rouletabille--the signal agreed upon. The
sound of a footstep made me halt before Arthur Rance's door. He
was not yet in bed, then! How was it that, being in the chateau,
he had not dined with Monsieur Stangerson and his daughter? I had
not seen him at table with them, at the moment when we looked in.
I retired into the dark closet. I found myself perfectly situated.
I could see along the whole length of the gallery. Nothing,
absolutely nothing could pass there without my seeing it. But what
was going to pass there? Rouletabille's embrace came back to my
mind. I argued that people don't part from each, other in that way
unless on an important or dangerous occasion. Was I then in danger?
My hand closed on the butt of my revolver and I waited. I am not
a hero; but neither am I a coward.
I waited about an hour, and during all that time I saw nothing
unusual. The rain, which had begun to come down strongly towards
nine o'clock, had now ceased.
My friend had told me that, probably, nothing would occur before
midnight or one o'clock in the morning. It was not more than
half-past eleven, however, when I heard the door of Arthur Rance's
room open very slowly. The door remained open for a minute, which
seemed to me a long time. As it opened into the gallery, that is
to say, outwards, I could not see what was passing in the room
behind the door.
At that moment I noticed a strange sound, three times repeated,
coming from the park. Ordinarily I should not have attached any
more importance to it than I would to the noise of cats on the roof.
But the third time, the mew was so sharp and penetrating that I
remembered what I had heard about the cry of the Bete du bon Dieu.
As the cry had accompanied all the events at the Glandier, I could
not refrain from shuddering at the thought.
Directly afterwards I saw a man appear on the outside of the door,
and close it after him. At first I could not recognise him, for
his back was towards me and he was bending over a rather bulky
package. When he had closed the door and picked up the package,
he turned towards the dark closet, and then I saw who he was. He
was the forest-keeper, the Green Man. He was wearing the same
costume that he had worn when I first saw him on the road in front
of the Donjon Inn. There was no doubt about his being the keeper.
As the cry of the Bete du Bon Dieu came for the third time, he put
down the package and went to the second window, counting from the
dark closet. I dared not risk making any movement, fearing I might
betray my presence.
Arriving at the window, he peered out on to the park. The night
was now light, the moon showing at intervals. The Green Man raised
his arms twice, making signs which I did not understand; then,
leaving the window, he again took up his package and moved along
the gallery towards the landing-place.
Rouletabille had instructed me to undo the curtain-cord when I saw
anything. Was Rouletabille expecting this? It was not my business
to question. All I had to do was obey instructions. I unfastened
the window-cord; my heart beating the while as if it would burst.
The man reached the landing-place, but, to my utter surprise--I
had expected to see him continue to pass along the gallery--I saw
him descend the stairs leading to the vestibule.
What was I to do? I looked stupidly at the heavy curtain which had
shut the light from the window. The signal had been given, and I
did not see Rouletabille appear at the corner of the off-turning
gallery. Nobody appeared. I was exceedingly perplexed. Half an
hour passed, an age to me. What was I to do now, even if I saw
something? The signal once given I could not give it a second time.
To venture into the gallery might upset all Rouletabille's plans.
After all, I had nothing to reproach myself for, and if something
had happened that my friend had not expected he could only blame
himself. Unable to be of any further assistance to him by means
of a signal, I left the dark closet and, still in my socks, made
my way to the "off-turning" gallery.
There was no one there. I went to the door of Rouletabille's room
and listened. I could hear nothing. I knocked gently. There was
no answer. I turned the door-handle and the door opened. I entered.
Rouletabille lay extended at full length on the floor.
The Incredible Body
I bent in great anxiety over the body of the reporter and had the
joy to find that he was deeply sleeping, the same unhealthy sleep
that I had seen fall upon Frederic Larsan. He had succumbed to the
influence of the same drug that had been mixed with our food. How
was it then, that I, also, had not been overcome by it? I reflected
that the drug must have been put into our wine; because that would
explain my condition. I never drink when eating. Naturally
inclined to obesity, I am restricted to a dry diet. I shook
Rouletabille, but could not succeed in waking him. This, no doubt,
was the work of Mademoiselle Stangerson.
She had certainly thought it necessary to guard herself against this
young man as well as her father. I recalled that the steward, in
serving us, had recommended an excellent Chablis which, no doubt,
had come from the professor's table.
More-than a quarter of an hour passed. I resolved, under the
pressing circumstances, to resort to extreme measures. I threw a
pitcher of cold water over Rouletabille's head. He opened his eyes.
I beat his face, and raised him up. I felt him stiffen in my arms
and heard him murmur: "Go on, go on; but don't make any noise." I
pinched him and shook him until he was able to stand up. We were
"They sent me to sleep," he said. "Ah! I passed an awful quarter
of an hour before giving way. But it is over now. Don't leave me."
He had no sooner uttered those words than we were thrilled by a
frightful cry that rang through the chateau,--a veritable death cry.
"Malheur!" roared Rouletabille; "we shall be too late!"
He tried to rush to the door, but he was too dazed, and fell against
the wall. I was already in the gallery, revolver in hand, rushing
like a madman towards Mademoiselle Stangerson's room. The moment I
arrived at the intersection of the "off-turning" gallery and the
"right" gallery, I saw a figure leaving her apartment, which, in a
few strides had reached the landing-place.
I was not master of myself. I fired. The report from the revolver
made a deafening noise; but the man continued his flight down the
stairs. I ran behind him, shouting: "Stop!--stop! or I will kill
you!" As I rushed after him down the stairs, I came face to face
with Arthur Rance coming from the left wing of the chateau, yelling:
"What is it? What is it?" We arrived almost at the same time at
the foot of the staircase. The window of the vestibule was open.
We distinctly saw the form of a man running away. Instinctively we
fired our revolvers in his direction. He was not more than ten
paces in front of us; he staggered and we thought he was going to
fall. We had sprung out of the window, but the man dashed off with
renewed vigour. I was in my socks, and the American was barefooted.
There being no hope of overtaking him, we fired our last cartridges
at him. But he still kept on running, going along the right side
of the court towards the end of the right wing of the chateau, which
had no other outlet than the door of the little chamber occupied by
the forest-keeper. The man, though he was evidently wounded by our
bullets, was now twenty yards ahead of us. Suddenly, behind us,
and above our heads, a window in the gallery opened and we heard
the voice of Rouletabille crying out desperately:
At that moment the clear moonlight night was further lit by a broad
flash. By its light we saw Daddy Bernier with his gun on the
threshold of the donjon door.
He had taken good aim. The shadow fell. But as it had reached the
end of the right wing of the chateau, it fell on the other side of
the angle of the building; that is to say, we saw it about to fall,
but not the actual sinking to the ground. Bernier, Arthur Rance
and myself reached the other side twenty seconds later. The shadow
was lying dead at our feet.
Aroused from his lethargy by the cries and reports, Larsan opened
the window of his chamber and called out to us. Rouletabille, quite
awake now, joined us at the same moment, and I cried out to him:
"He is dead!--is dead!"
"So much the better," he said. "Take him into the vestibule of the
chateau." Then as if on second thought, he said: "No!--no! Let us
put him in his own room."
Rouletabille knocked at the door. Nobody answered. Naturally, this
did not surprise me.
"He is evidently not there, otherwise he would have come out," said
the reporter. "Let us carry him to the vestibule then."
Since reaching the dead shadow, a thick cloud had covered the moon
and darkened the night, so that we were unable to make out the
features. Daddy Jacques, who had now joined us, helped us to carry
the body into the vestibule, where we laid it down on the lower step
of the stairs. On the way, I had felt my hands wet from the warm
blood flowing from the wounds.
Daddy Jacques flew to the kitchen and returned with a lantern. He
held it close to the face of the dead shadow, and we recognised the
keeper, the man called by the landlord of the Donjon Inn the Green
Man, whom, an hour earlier, I had seen come out of Arthur Rance's
chamber carrying a parcel. But what I had seen I could only tell
Rouletabille later, when we were alone.
Rouletabille and Frederic Larsan experienced a cruel disappointment
at the result of the night's adventure. They could only look in
consternation and stupefaction at the body of the Green Man.
Daddy Jacques showed a stupidly sorrowful face and with silly
lamentations kept repeating that we were mistaken--the keeper could
not be the assailant. We were obliged to compel him to be quiet.
He could not have shown greater grief had the body been that of his
own son. I noticed, while all the rest of us were more or less
undressed and barefooted, that he was fully clothed.
Rouletabille had not left the body. Kneeling on the flagstones by
the light of Daddy Jacques's lantern he removed the clothes from
the body and laid bare its breast. Then snatching the lantern from
Daddy Jacques, he held it over the corpse and saw a gaping wound.
Rising suddenly he exclaimed in a voice filled with savage irony:
"The man you believe to have been shot was killed by the stab of a
knife in his heart!"
I thought Rouletabille had gone mad; but, bending over the body, I
quickly satisfied myself that Rouletabille was right. Not a sign
of a bullet anywhere--the wound, evidently made by a sharp blade,
had penetrated the heart.
The Double Scent
I had hardly recovered from the surprise into which this new
discovery had plunged me, when Rouletabille touched me on the
shoulder and asked me to follow him into his room.
"What are we going to do there?"
"To think the matter over."
I confess I was in no condition for doing much thinking, nor could
I understand how Rouletabille could so control himself as to be
able calmly to sit down for reflection when he must have known that
Mademoiselle Stangerson was at that moment almost on the point of
death. But his self-control was more than I could explain. Closing
the door of his room, he motioned me to a chair and, seating himself
before me, took out his pipe. We sat there for some time in silence
and then I fell asleep.
When I awoke it was daylight. It was eight o'clock by my watch.
Rouletabille was no longer in the room. I rose to go out when the
door opened and my friend re-entered. He had evidently lost no time.
"How about Mademoiselle Stangerson?" I asked him.
"Her condition, though very alarming, is not desperate."
"When did you leave this room?"
"I guess you have been hard at work?"
"Have you found out anything?"
"Two sets of footprints!"
"Do they explain anything?"
"Have they anything to do with the mystery of the keeper's body?"
"Yes; the mystery is no longer a mystery. This morning, walking
round the chateau, I found two distinct sets of footprints, made at
the same time, last night. They were made by two persons walking
side by side. I followed them from the court towards the oak grove.
Larsan joined me. They were the same kind of footprints as were
made at the time of the assault in The Yellow Room--one set was
from clumsy boots and the other was made by neat ones, except that
the big toe of one of the sets was of a different size from the one
measured in The Yellow Room incident. I compared the marks with
the paper patterns I had previously made.
"Still following the tracks of the prints, Larsan and I passed out
of the oak grove and reached the border of the lake. There they
turned off to a little path leading to the high road to Epinay where
we lost the traces in the newly macadamised highway.
"We went back to the chateau and parted at the courtyard. We met
again, however, in Daddy Jacques's room to which our separate trains
of thinking had led us both. We found the old servant in bed. His
clothes on the chair were wet through and his boots very muddy. He
certainly did not get into that state in helping us to carry the
body of the keeper. It was not raining then. Then his face showed
extreme fatigue and he looked at us out of terror-stricken eyes.
"On our first questioning him he told us that he had gone to bed
immediately after the doctor had arrived. On pressing him, however,
for it was evident to us he was not speaking the truth, he confessed
that he had been away from the chateau. He explained his absence
by saying that he had a headache and went out into the fresh air,
but had gone no further than the oak grove. When we then described
to him the whole route he had followed, he sat up in bed trembling.
"'And you were not alone!' cried Larsan.
"'Did you see it then?' gasped Daddy Jacques.
"'What?' I asked.
"'The phantom--the black phantom!'
"Then he told us that for several nights he had seen what he kept
calling the black phantom. It came into the park at the stroke of
midnight and glided stealthily through the trees; it appeared to
him to pass through the trunks of the trees. Twice he had seen
it from his window, by the light of the moon and had risen and
followed the strange apparition. The night before last he had
almost overtaken it; but it had vanished at the corner of the
donjon. Last night, however, he had not left the chateau, his
mind being disturbed by a presentiment that some new crime would
be attempted. Suddenly he saw the black phantom rush out from
somewhere in the middle of the court. He followed it to the lake
and to the high road to Epinay, where the phantom suddenly
"'Did you see his face?' demanded Larsan.
"'No!--I saw nothing but black veils.'
"'Did you go out after what passed on the gallery?'
"'I could not!--I was terrified.'
"'Daddy Jacques,' I said, in a threatening voice, 'you did not follow
it; you and the phantom walked to Epinay together--arm in arm!'
"'No!' he cried, turning his eyes away, 'I did not. It came on to
pour, and--I turned back. I don't know what became of the black
"We left him, and when we were outside I turned to Larsan, looking
him full in the face, and put my question suddenly to take him off
"'How can I tell?' he replied, shrugging his shoulders. 'You can't
be sure of anything in a case like this. Twenty-four hours ago I
would have sworn that there was no accomplice!' He left me saying
he was off to Epinay."
"Well, what do you make of it?" I asked Rouletabille, after he had
ended his recital. "Personally I am utterly in the dark. I can't
make anything out of it. What do you gather?"
"Everything! Everything!" he exclaimed. "But," he said abruptly,
"let's find out more about Mademoiselle Stangerson."
Rouletabille Knows the Two Halves of the Murderer
Mademoiselle Stangerson had been almost murdered for the second
time. Unfortunately, she was in too weak a state to bear the
severer injuries of this second attack as well as she had those of
the first. She had received three wounds in the breast from the
murderer's knife, and she lay long between life and death. Her
strong physique, however, saved her; but though she recovered
physically it was found that her mind had been affected. The
slightest allusion to the terrible incident sent her into delirium,
and the arrest of Robert Darzac which followed on the day following
the tragic death of the keeper seemed to sink her fine intelligence
into complete melancholia.
Robert Darzac arrived at the chateau towards half-past nine. I saw
him hurrying through the park, his hair and clothes in disorder and
his face a deadly white. Rouletabille and I were looking out of a
window in the gallery. He saw us, and gave a despairing cry: "I'm
Rouletabille answered: "She lives!"
A minute later Darzac had gone into Mademoiselle Stangerson's room
and, through the door, we could hear his heart-rending sobs.
"There's a fate about this place!" groaned Rouletabille. "Some
infernal gods must be watching over the misfortunes of this family!
--If I had not been drugged, I should have saved Mademoiselle
Stangerson. I should have silenced him forever. And the keeper
would not have been killed!"
Monsieur Darzac came in to speak with us. His distress was terrible.
Rouletabille told him everything: his preparations for Mademoiselle
Stangerson's safety; his plans for either capturing or for disposing
of the assailant for ever; and how he would have succeeded had it
not been for the drugging.
"If only you had trusted me!" said the young man, in a low tone.
"If you had but begged Mademoiselle Stangerson to confide in me!
--But, then, everybody here distrusts everybody else, the daughter
distrusts her father, and even her lover. While you ask me to
protect her she is doing all she can to frustrate me. That was why
I came on the scene too late!"
At Monsieur Robert Darzac's request Rouletabille described the
whole scene. Leaning on the wall, to prevent himself from falling,
he had made his way to Mademoiselle Stangerson's room, while we were
running after the supposed murderer. The ante-room door was open
and when he entered he found Mademoiselle Stangerson lying partly
thrown over the desk. Her dressing-gown was dyed with the blood
flowing from her bosom. Still under the influence of the drug, he
felt he was walking in a horrible nightmare.
He went back to the gallery automatically, opened a window, shouted
his order to fire, and then returned to the room. He crossed the
deserted boudoir, entered the drawing-room, and tried to rouse
Monsieur Stangerson who was lying on a sofa. Monsieur Stangerson
rose stupidly and let himself be drawn by Rouletabille into the room
where, on seeing his daughter's body, he uttered a heart-rending cry.
Both united their feeble strength and carried her to her bed.
On his way to join us Rouletabille passed by the desk. On the floor,
near it, he saw a large packet. He knelt down and, finding the
wrapper loose, he examined it, and made out an enormous quantity of
papers and photographs. On one of the papers he read: "New
differential electroscopic condenser. Fundamental properties of
substance intermediary between ponderable matter and imponderable
ether." Strange irony of fate that the professor's precious papers
should be restored to him at the very time when an attempt was being
made to deprive him of his daughter's life! What are papers worth
to him now?
The morning following that awful night saw Monsieur de Marquet once
more at the chateau, with his Registrar and gendarmes. Of course
we were all questioned. Rouletabille and I had already agreed on
what to say. I kept back any information as to my being in the
dark closet and said nothing about the drugging. We did not wish
to suggest in any way that Mademoiselle Stangerson had been
expecting her nocturnal visitor. The poor woman might, perhaps,
never recover, and it was none of our business to lift the veil of
a secret the preservation of which she had paid for so dearly.
Arthur Rance told everybody, in a manner so natural that it
astonished me, that he had last seen the keeper towards eleven
o'clock of that fatal night. He had come for his valise, he said,
which he was to take for him early next morning to the Saint-Michel
station, and had been kept out late running after poachers. Arthur
Rance had, indeed, intended to leave the chateau and, according to
his habit, to walk to the station.
Monsieur Stangerson confirmed what Rance had said, adding that he
had not asked Rance to dine with him because his friend had taken
his final leave of them both earlier in the evening. Monsieur
Rance had had tea served him in his room, because he had complained
of a slight indisposition.
Bernier testified, instructed by Rouletabille, that the keeper had
ordered him to meet at a spot near the oak grove, for the purpose
of looking out for poachers. Finding that the keeper did not keep
his appointment, he, Bernier, had gone in search of him. He had
almost arrived at the donjon, when he saw a figure running swiftly
in a direction opposite to him, towards the right wing of the
chateau. He heard revolver shots from behind the figure and saw
Rouletabille at one of the gallery windows. He heard Rouletabille
call out to him to fire, and he had fired. He believed he had
killed the man until he learned, after Rouletabille had uncovered
the body, that the man had died from a knife thrust. Who had given
it he could not imagine. "Nobody could have been near the spot
without my seeing him." When the examining magistrate reminded him
that the spot where the body was found was very dark and that he
himself had not been able to recognise the keeper before firing,
Daddy Bernier replied that neither had they seen the other body;
nor had they found it. In the narrow court where five people were
standing it would have been strange if the other body, had it been
there, could have escaped. The only door that opened into the court
was that of the keeper's room, and that door was closed, and the
key of it was found in the keeper's pocket.
However that might be, the examining magistrate did not pursue his
inquiry further in this direction. He was evidently convinced that
we had missed the man we were chasing and we had come upon the
keeper's body in our chase. This matter of the keeper was another
matter entirely. He wanted to satisfy himself about that without
any further delay. Probably it fitted in with the conclusions he
had already arrived at as to the keeper and his intrigues with the
wife of Mathieu, the landlord of the Donjon Inn. This Mathieu,
later in the afternoon, was arrested and taken to Corbeil in spite
of his rheumatism. He had been heard to threaten the keeper, and
though no evidence against him had been found at his inn, the
evidence of carters who had heard the threats was enough to justify
The examination had proceeded thus far when, to our surprise,
Frederic Larsan returned to the chateau. He was accompanied by one
of the employes of the railway. At that moment Rance and I were in
the vestibule discussing Mathieu's guilt or innocence, while
Rouletabille stood apart buried, apparently, in thought. The
examining magistrate and his Registrar were in the little green
drawing-room, while Darzac was with the doctor and Stangerson in
the lady's chamber. As Frederic Larsan entered the vestibule with
the railway employed, Rouletabille and I at once recognised him by
the small blond beard. We exchanged meaningful glances. Larsan
had himself announced to the examining magistrate by the gendarme
and entered with the railway servant as Daddy Jacques came out.
Some ten minutes went by during which Rouletabille appeared
extremely impatient. The door of the drawing-room was then opened
and we heard the magistrate calling to the gendarme who entered.
Presently he came out, mounted the stairs and, coming back shortly,
went in to the magistrate and said:
"Monsieur,--Monsieur Robert Darzac will not come!"
"What! Not come!" cried Monsieur de Marquet.
"He says he cannot leave Mademoiselle Stangerson in her present
"Very well," said Monsieur de Marquet; "then we'll go to him."
Monsieur de Marquet and the gendarme mounted the stairs. He made
a sign to Larsan and the railroad employe to follow. Rouletabille
and I went along too.
On reaching the door of Mademoiselle Stangerson's chamber, Monsieur
de Marquet knocked. A chambermaid appeared. It was Sylvia, with
her hair all in disorder and consternation showing on her face.
"Is Monsieur Stangerson within?" asked the magistrate.
"Tell him that I wish to speak with him."
Stangerson came out. His appearance was wretched in the extreme.
"What do you want?" he demanded of the magistrate. "May I not be
left in peace, Monsieur?"
"Monsieur," said the magistrate, "it is absolutely necessary that I
should see Monsieur Darzac at once. If you cannot induce him to
come, I shall be compelled to use the help of the law."
The professor made no reply. He looked at us all like a man being
led to execution, and then went back into the room.
Almost immediately after Monsieur Robert Darzac came out. He was
very pale. He looked at us and, his eyes falling on the railway
servant, his features stiffened and he could hardly repress a groan.
We were all much moved by the appearance of the man. We felt that
what was about to happen would decide the fate of Monsieur Robert
Darzac. Frederic Larsan's face alone was radiant, showing a joy
as of a dog that had at last got its prey.
Pointing to the railway servant, Monsieur de Marquet said to
"Do you recognise this man, Monsieur?"
"I do," said Monsieur Darzac, in a tone which he vainly tried to
make firm. "He is an employe at the station at Epinay-sur-Orge."
"This young man," went on Monsieur de Marquet, "affirms that he saw
you get off the train at Epinay-sur-Orge--"
"That night," said Monsieur Darzac, interrupting, "at half-past ten
--it is quite true."
An interval of silence followed.
"Monsieur Darzac," the magistrate went on in a tone of deep emotion,
"Monsieur Darzac, what were you doing that night, at Epinay-sur-Orge
--at that time?"
Monsieur Darzac remained silent, simply closing his eyes.
"Monsieur Darzac," insisted Monsieur de Marquet, "can you tell me
how you employed your time, that night?"
Monsieur Darzac opened his eyes. He seemed to have recovered his
"Think, Monsieur! For, if you persist in your strange refusal, I
shall be under the painful necessity of keeping you at my
"Monsieur Darzac!--in the name of the law, I arrest you!"
The magistrate had no sooner pronounced the words than I saw
Rouletabille move quickly towards Monsieur Darzac. He would
certainly have spoken to him, but Darzac, by a gesture, held
him off. As the gendarme approached his prisoner, a despairing
cry rang through the room:
We recognised the voice of Mademoiselle Stangerson. We all
shuddered. Larsan himself turned pale. Monsieur Darzac, in response
to the cry, had flown back into the room.
The magistrate, the gendarme, and Larsan followed closely after.
Rouletabille and I remained on the threshold. It was a
heart-breaking sight that met our eyes. Mademoiselle Stangerson,
with a face of deathly pallor, had risen on her bed, in spite of
the restraining efforts of two doctors and her father. She was
holding out her trembling arms towards Robert Darzac, on whom
Larsan and the gendarme had laid hands. Her distended eyes saw
--she understood--her lips seemed to form a word, but nobody made
it out; and she fell back insensible.
Monsieur Darzac was hurried out of the room and placed in the
vestibule to wait for the vehicle Larsan had gone to fetch. We
were all overcome by emotion and even Monsieur de Marquet had tears
in his eyes. Rouletabille took advantage of the opportunity to
say to Monsieur Darzac:
"Are you going to put in any defense?"
"No!" replied the prisoner.
"Very well, then I will, Monsieur."
"You cannot do it," said the unhappy man with a faint smile.
"I can--and I will."
Rouletabille's voice had in it a strange strength and confidence.
"I can do it, Monsieur Robert Darzac, because I know more than
"Come! Come!" murmured Darzac, almost angrily.
"Have no fear! I shall know only what will benefit you."
"You must know nothing, young man, if you want me to be grateful."
Rouletabille shook his head, going close up to Darzac.
"Listen to what I am about to say," he said in a low tone, "and let
it give you confidence. You do not know the name of the murderer.
Mademoiselle Stangerson knows it; but only half of it; but I know
his two halves; I know the whole man!"
Robert Darzac opened his eyes, with a look that showed he had not
understood a word of what Rouletabille had said to him. At that
moment the conveyance arrived, driven by Frederic Larsan. Darzac
and the gendarme entered it, Larsan remaining on the driver's seat.
The prisoner was taken to Corbeil.
Rouletabille Goes on a Journey
That same evening Rouletabille and I left the Glandier. We were
very glad to get away and there was nothing more to keep us there.
I declared my intention to give up the whole matter. It had been
too much for me. Rouletabille, with a friendly tap on my shoulder,
confessed that he had nothing more to learn at the Glandier; he had
learned there all it had to tell him. We reached Paris about eight
o'clock, dined, and then, tired out, we separated, agreeing to meet
the next morning at my rooms.
Rouletabille arrived next day at the hour agreed on. He was dressed
in a suit of English tweed, with an ulster on his arm, and a valise
in his hand. Evidently he had prepared himself for a journey.
"How long shall you be away?" I asked.
"A month or two," he said. "It all depends."
I asked him no more questions.
"Do you know," he asked, "what the word was that Mademoiselle
Stangerson tried to say before she fainted?"
"No--nobody heard it."
"I heard it!" replied Rouletabille. "She said 'Speak!'"
"Do you think Darzac will speak?"
I was about to make some further observations, but he wrung my hand
warmly and wished me good-bye. I had only time to ask him one
question before he left.
"Are you not afraid that other attempts may be made while you're
"No! Not now that Darzac is in prison," he answered.
With this strange remark he left. I was not to see him again until
the day of Darzac's trial at the court when he appeared to explain
In Which Joseph Rouletabille Is Awaited with Impatience
On the 15th of January, that is to say, two months and a half after
the tragic events I have narrated, the "Epoque" printed, as the
first column of the front page, the following sensational article:
"The Seine-et-Oise jury is summoned to-day to give its verdict on
one of the most mysterious affairs in the annals of crime. There
never has been a case with so many obscure, incomprehensible, and
inexplicable points. And yet the prosecution has not hesitated to
put into the prisoner's dock a man who is respected, esteemed, and
loved by all who knew him--a young savant, the hope of French
science, whose whole life has been devoted to knowledge and truth.
When Paris heard of Monsieur Robert Darzac's arrest a unanimous cry
of protest arose from all sides. The whole Sorbonne, disgraced by
this act of the examining magistrate, asserted its belief in the
innocence of Mademoiselle Stangerson's fiance. Monsieur Stangerson
was loud in his denunciation of this miscarriage of justice. There
is no doubt in the mind of anybody that could the victim speak she
would claim from the jurors of Seine-et-Oise the man she wishes to
make her husband and whom the prosecution would send to the scaffold.
It is to be hoped that Mademoiselle Stangerson will shortly recover
her reason, which has been temporarily unhinged by the horrible
mystery at the Glandier. The question before the jury is the one
we propose to deal with this very day.
"We have decided not to permit twelve worthy men to commit a
disgraceful miscarriage of justice. We confess that the remarkable
coincidences, the many convicting evidences, and the inexplicable
silence on the part of the accused, as well as a total absence of
any evidence for an alibi, were enough to warrant the bench of
judges in assuming that in this man alone was centered the truth
of the affair. The evidences are, in appearance, so overwhelming
against Monsieur Robert Darzac that a detective so well informed,
so intelligent, and generally so successful, as Monsieur Frederic
Larsan, may be excused for having been misled by them. Up to now
everything has gone against Monsieur Robert Darzac in the
magisterial inquiry. To-day, however, we are going to defend him
before the jury, and we are going to bring to the witness stand a
light that will illumine the whole mystery of the Glandier. For
we possess the truth.
"If we have not spoken sooner, it is because the interests of
certain parties in the case demand that we should take that course.
Our readers may remember the unsigned reports we published relating
to the 'Left foot of the Rue Oberkampf,' at the time of the famous
robbery of the Credit Universel, and the famous case of the 'Gold
Ingots of the Mint.' In both those cases we were able to discover
the truth long before even the excellent ingenuity of Frederic
Larsan had been able to unravel it. These reports were written by
our youngest reporter, Joseph Rouletabille, a youth of eighteen,
whose fame to-morrow will be world-wide. When attention was first
drawn to the Glandier case, our youthful reporter was on the spot
and installed in the chateau, when every other representative of
the press had been denied admission. He worked side by side with
Frederic Larsan. He was amazed and terrified at the grave mistake
the celebrated detective was about to make, and tried to divert
him from the false scent he was following; but the great Fred
refused to receive instructions from this young journalist. We
know now where it brought Monsieur Robert Darzac.
"But now, France must know--the whole world must know, that, on
the very evening on which Monsieur Darzac was arrested, young
Rouletabille entered our editorial office and informed us that he
was about to go away on a journey. 'How long I shall be away,'
he said, 'I cannot say; perhaps a month--perhaps two--perhaps
three perhaps I may never return. Here is a letter. If I am not
back on the day on which Monsieur Darzac is to appear before the
Assize Court, have this letter opened and read to the court, after
all the witnesses have been heard. Arrange it with Monsieur Darzac's
counsel. Monsieur Darzac is innocent. In this letter is written
the name of the murderer; and--that is all I have to say. I am
leaving to get my proofs--for the irrefutable evidence of the
murderer's guilt.' Our reporter departed. For a long time we
were without news from him; but, a week ago, a stranger called
upon our manager and said: 'Act in accordance with the instructions
of Joseph Rouletabille, if it becomes necessary to do so. The
letter left by him holds the truth.' The gentleman who brought us
this message would not give us his name.
"To-day, the 15th of January, is the day of the trial. Joseph
Rouletabille has not returned. It may be we shall never see him
again. The press also counts its heroes, its martyrs to duty. It
may be he is no longer living. We shall know how to avenge him.
Our manager will, this afternoon, be at the Court of Assize at
Versailles, with the letter--the letter containing the name of
Those Parisians who flocked to the Assize Court at Versailles, to
be present at the trial of what was known as the "Mystery of The
Yellow Room," will certainly remember the terrible crush at the
Saint-Lazare station. The ordinary trains were so full that special
trains had to be made up. The article in the "Epoque" had so
excited the populace that discussion was rife everywhere even to
the verge of blows. Partisans of Rouletabille fought with the
supporters of Frederic Larsan. Curiously enough the excitement
was due less to the fact that an innocent man was in danger of a
wrongful conviction than to the interest taken in their own ideas
as to the Mystery of The Yellow Room. Each had his explanation to
which each held fast. Those who explained the crime on Frederic
Larsan's theory would not admit that there could be any doubt as
to the perspicacity of the popular detective. Others who had
arrived at a different solution, naturally insisted that this was
Rouletabille's explanation, though they did not as yet know what
With the day's "Epoque" in their hands, the "Larsans" and the
"Rouletabilles" fought and shoved each other on the steps of the
Palais de Justice, right into the court itself. Those who could
not get in remained in the neighbourhood until evening and were,
with great difficulty, kept back by the soldiery and the police.
They became hungry for news, welcoming the most absurd rumours.
At one time the rumour spread that Monsieur Stangerson himself had
been arrested in the court and had confessed to being the murderer.
This goes to show to what a pitch of madness nervous excitement
may carry people. Rouletabille was still expected. Some pretended
to know him; and when a young man with a "pass" crossed the open
space which separated the crowd from the Court House, a scuffle
took place. Cries were raised of "Rouletabille!--there's
Rouletabille!" The arrival of the manager of the paper was the
signal for a great demonstration. Some applauded, others hissed.
The trial itself was presided over by Monsieur de Rocouz, a judge
filled with the prejudice of his class, but a man honest at heart.
The witnesses had been called. I was there, of course, as were all
who had, in any way, been in touch with the mysteries of the
Glandier. Monsieur Stangerson--looking many years older and almost
unrecognisable--Larsan, Arthur Rance, with his face ruddy as ever,
Daddy Jacques, Daddy Mathieu, who was brought into court handcuffed
between two gendarmes, Madame Mathieu, in tears, the two Berniers,
the two nurses, the steward, all the domestics of the chateau, the
employe of the Paris Post Office, the railway employe from Epinay,
some friends of Monsieur and Mademoiselle Stangerson, and all
Monsieur Darzac's witnesses. I was lucky enough to be called early
in the trial, so that I was then able to watch and be present at
almost the whole of the proceedings.
The court was so crowded that many lawyers were compelled to find
seats on the steps. Behind the bench of justices were
representatives from other benches. Monsieur Robert Darzac stood
in the prisoner's dock between policemen, tall, handsome, and calm.
A murmur of admiration rather than of compassion greeted his
appearance. He leaned forward towards his counsel, Maitre Henri
Robert, who, assisted by his chief secretary, Maitre Andre Hesse,
was busily turning over the folios of his brief.
Many expected that Monsieur Stangerson, after giving his evidence,
would have gone over to the prisoner and shaken hands with him; but
he left the court without another word. It was remarked that the
jurors appeared to be deeply interested in a rapid conversation
which the manager of the "Epoque" was having with Maitre Henri
Robert. The manager, later, sat down in the front row of the public
seats. Some were surprised that he was not asked to remain with
the other witnesses in the room reserved for them.
The reading of the indictment was got through, as it always is,
without any incident. I shall not here report the long examination
to which Monsieur Darzac was subjected. He answered all the
questions quickly and easily. His silence as to the important
matters of which we know was dead against him. It would seem as if
this reticence would be fatal for him. He resented the President's
reprimands. He was told that his silence might mean death.
"Very well," he said; "I will submit to it; but I am innocent."
With that splendid ability which has made his fame, Maitre Robert
took advantage of the incident, and tried to show that it brought
out in noble relief his client's character; for only heroic natures
could remain silent for moral reasons in face of such a danger.
The eminent advocate however, only succeeded in assuring those who
were already assured of Darzac's innocence. At the adjournment
Rouletabille had not yet arrived. Every time a door opened, all
eyes there turned towards it and back to the manager of the "Epoque,"
who sat impassive in his place. When he once was feeling in his
pocket a loud murmur of expectation followed. The letter!
It is not, however, my intention to report in detail the course of
the trial. My readers are sufficiently acquainted with the
mysteries surrounding the Glandier case to enable me to go on to
the really dramatic denouement of this ever-memorable day.
When the trial was resumed, Maitre Henri Robert questioned Daddy
Mathieu as to his complicity in the death of the keeper. His wife
was also brought in and was confronted by her husband. She burst
into tears and confessed that she had been the keeper's mistress,
and that her husband had suspected it. She again, however,
affirmed that he had had nothing to do with the murder of her lover.
Maitre Henri Robert thereupon asked the court to hear Frederic
Larsan on this point.
"In a short conversation which I have had with Frederic Larsan,
during the adjournment," declared the advocate, "he has made me
understand that the death of the keeper may have been brought about
otherwise than by the hand of Mathieu. It will be interesting to
hear Frederic Larsan's theory."
Frederic Larsan was brought in. His explanation was quite clear.
"I see no necessity," he said, "for bringing Mathieu in this. I
have told Monsieur de Marquet that the man's threats had biassed
the examining magistrate against him. To me the attempt to murder
Mademoiselle and the death of the keeper are the work of one and
the same person. Mademoiselle Stangerson's murderer, flying
through the court, was fired on; it was thought he was struck,
perhaps killed. As a matter of fact, he only stumbled at the
moment of his disappearance behind the corner of the right wing
of the chateau. There he encountered the keeper who, no doubt,
tried to seize him. The murderer had in his hand the knife with
which he had stabbed Mademoiselle Stangerson and with this he
killed the keeper."
This very simple explanation appeared at once plausible and
satisfying. A murmur of approbation was heard.
"And the murderer? What became of him?" asked the President.
"He was evidently hidden in an obscure corner at the end of the
court. After the people had left the court carrying with them the
body of the keeper, the murderer quietly made his escape."
The words had scarcely left Larsan's mouth when from the back of
the court came a youthful voice:
"I agree with Frederic Larsan as to the death of the keeper; but I
do not agree with him as to the way the murderer escaped!"
Everybody turned round, astonished. The clerks of the court sprang
towards the speaker, calling out silence, and the President angrily
ordered the intruder to be immediately expelled. The same clear
voice, however, was again heard:
"It is I, Monsieur President--Joseph Rouletabille!"
In Which Joseph Rouletabille Appears in All His Glory
The excitement was extreme. Cries from fainting women were to be
heard amid the extraordinary bustle and stir. The "majesty of the
law" was utterly forgotten. The President tried in vain to make
himself heard. Rouletabille made his way forward with difficulty,
but by dint of much elbowing reached his manager and greeted him
cordially. The letter was passed to him and pocketing it he turned
to the witness-box. He was dressed exactly as on the day he left
me even to the ulster over his arm. Turning to the President, he
"I beg your pardon, Monsieur President, but I have only just arrived
from America. The steamer was late. My name is Joseph Rouletabille!"
The silence which followed his stepping into the witness-box was
broken by laughter when his words were heard. Everybody seemed
relieved and glad to find him there, as if in the expectation of
hearing the truth at last.
But the President was extremely incensed:
"So, you are Joseph Rouletabille," he replied; "well, young man,
I'll teach you what comes of making a farce of justice. By virtue
of my discretionary power, I hold you at the court's disposition."
"I ask nothing better, Monsieur President. I have come here for
that purpose. I humbly beg the court's pardon for the disturbance
of which I have been the innocent cause. I beg you to believe that
nobody has a greater respect for the court than I have. I came in
as I could." He smiled.
"Take him away!" ordered the President.
Maitre Henri Robert intervened. He began by apologising for the
young man, who, he said, was moved only by the best intentions.
He made the President understand that the evidence of a witness who
had slept at the Glandier during the whole of that eventful week
could not be omitted, and the present witness, moreover, had come
to name the real murderer.
"Are you going to tell us who the murderer was?" asked the President,
somewhat convinced though still sceptical.
"I have come for that purpose, Monsieur President!" replied
An attempt at applause was silenced by the usher.
"Joseph Rouletabille," said Maitre Henri Robert, "has not been
regularly subpoenaed as a witness, but I hope, Monsieur President,
you will examine him in virtue of your discretionary powers."
"Very well!" said the President, "we will question him. But we must
proceed in order."
The Advocate-General rose:
"It would, perhaps, be better," he said, "if the young man were to
tell us now whom he suspects."
The President nodded ironically:
"If the Advocate-General attaches importance to the deposition of
Monsieur Joseph Rouletabille, I see no reason why this witness
should not give us the name of the murderer."
A pin drop could have been heard. Rouletabille stood silent looking
sympathetically at Darzac, who, for the first time since the opening
of the trial, showed himself agitated.
"Well," cried the President, "we wait for the name of the murderer."
Rouletabille, feeling in his waistcoat pocket, drew his watch and,
looking at it, said:
"Monsieur President, I cannot name the murderer before half-past
Loud murmurs of disappointment filled the room. Some of the lawyers
were heard to say: "He's making fun of us!"
The President in a stern voice, said:
"This joke has gone far enough. You may retire, Monsieur, into the
witnesses' room. I hold you at our disposition."
"I assure you, Monsieur President," he cried in his sharp, clear
voice, "that when I do name the murderer you will understand why
I could not speak before half-past six. I assert this on my honour.
I can, however, give you now some explanation of the murder of the
keeper. Monsieur Frederic Larsan, who has seen me at work at the
Glandier, can tell you with what care I studied this case. I found
myself compelled to differ with him in arresting Monsieur Robert
Darzac, who is innocent. Monsieur Larsan knows of my good faith
and knows that some importance may be attached to my discoveries,
which have often corroborated his own."
Frederic Larsan said:
"Monsieur President, it will be interesting to hear Monsieur Joseph
Rouletabille, especially as he differs from me."
A murmur of approbation greeted the detective's speech. He was a
good sportsman and accepted the challenge. The struggle between
the two promised to be exciting.
As the President remained silent, Frederic Larsan continued:
"We agree that the murderer of the keeper was the assailant of
Mademoiselle Stangerson; but as we are not agreed as to how the
murderer escaped, I am curious to hear Monsieur Rouletabille's
"I have no doubt you are," said my friend.
General laughter followed this remark. The President angrily
declared that if it was repeated, he would have the court cleared.
"Now, young man," said the President, "you have heard Monsieur
Frederic Larsan; how did the murderer get away from the court?"
Rouletabille looked at Madame Mathieu, who smiled back at him sadly.
"Since Madame Mathieu," he said, "has freely admitted her intimacy
with the keeper--"
"Why, it's the boy!" exclaimed Daddy Mathieu.
"Remove that man!" ordered the President.
Mathieu was removed from the court. Rouletabille went on:
"Since she has made this confession, I am free to tell you that she
often met the keeper at night on the first floor of the donjon, in
the room which was once an oratory. These meetings became more
frequent when her husband was laid up by his rheumatism. She gave
him morphine to ease his pain and to give herself more time for the
meetings. Madame Mathieu came to the chateau that night, enveloped
in a large black shawl which served also as a disguise. This was
the phantom that disturbed Daddy Jacques. She knew how to imitate
the mewing of Mother Angenoux' cat and she would make the cries to
advise the keeper of her presence. The recent repairs of the donjon
did not interfere with their meetings in the keeper's old room, in
the donjon, since the new room assigned to him at the end of the
right wing was separated from the steward's room by a partition only.
"Previous to the tragedy in the courtyard Madame Mathieu and the
keeper left the donjon together. I learnt these facts from my
examination of the footmarks in the court the next morning. Bernier,
the concierge, whom I had stationed behind the donjon--as he will
explain himself--could not see what passed in the court. He did
not reach the court until he heard the revolver shots, and then he
fired. When the woman parted from the man she went towards the open
gate of the court, while he returned to his room.
"He had almost reached the door when the revolvers rang out. He
had just reached the corner when a shadow bounded by. Meanwhile,
Madame Mathieu, surprised by the revolver shots and by the entrance
of people into the court, crouched in the darkness. The court is
a large one and, being near the gate, she might easily have passed
out unseen. But she remained and saw the body being carried away.
In great agony of mind she neared the vestibule and saw the dead
body of her lover on the stairs lit up by Daddy Jacques' lantern.
She then fled; and Daddy Jacques joined her.
"That same night, before the murder, Daddy Jacques had been awakened
by the cat's cry, and, looking through his window, had seen the
black phantom. Hastily dressing himself he went out and recognised
her. He is an old friend of Madame Mathieu, and when she saw him
she had to tell him of her relations with the keeper and begged his
assistance. Daddy Jacques took pity on her and accompanied her
through the oak grove out of the park, past the border of the lake
to the road to Epinay. From there it was but a very short distance
to her home.
"Daddy Jacques returned to the chateau, and, seeing how important
it was for Madame Mathieu's presence at the chateau to remain
unknown, he did all he could to hide it. I appeal to Monsieur
Larsan, who saw me, next morning, examine the two sets of
Here Rouletabille turning towards Madame Mathieu, with a bow, said:
"The footprints of Madame bear a strange resemblance to the neat
footprints of the murderer."
Madame Mathieu trembled and looked at him with wide eyes as if in
wonder at what he would say next.
"Madame has a shapely foot, long and rather large for a woman. The
imprint, with its pointed toe, is very like that of the murderer's."
A movement in the court was repressed by Rouletabille. He held
their attention at once.
"I hasten to add," he went on, "that I attach no importance to this.
Outward signs like these are often liable to lead us into error, if
we do not reason rightly. Monsieur Robert Darzac's footprints are
also like the murderer's, and yet he is not the murderer!"
The President turning to Madame Mathieu asked:
"Is that in accordance with what you know occurred?"
"Yes, Monsieur President," she replied, "it is as if Monsieur
Rouletabille had been behind us."
"Did you see the murderer running towards the end of the right wing?"
"Yes, as clearly as I saw them afterwards carrying the keeper's
"What became of the murderer?--You were in the courtyard and could
easily have seen.
"I saw nothing of him, Monsieur President. It became quite dark
"Then Monsieur Rouletabille," said the President, "must explain
how the murderer made his escape."
"It was impossible for the murderer to escape by the way he had
entered the court without our seeing him; or if we couldn't see him
we must certainly have felt him, since the court is a very narrow
one enclosed in high iron railings."
"Then if the man was hemmed in that narrow square, how is it you
did not find him?--I have been asking you that for the last
"Monsieur President," replied Rouletabille, "I cannot answer that
question before half-past six!"
By this time the people in the court-room were beginning to believe
in this new witness. They were amused by his melodramatic action
in thus fixing the hour; but they seemed to have confidence in the
outcome. As for the President, it looked as if he also had made up
his mind to take the young man in the same way. He had certainly
been impressed by Rouletabille's explanation of Madame Mathieu's part.
"Well, Monsieur Rouletabille," he said, "as you say; but don't let
us see any more of you before half-past six."
Rouletabille bowed to the President, and made his way to the door
of the witnesses' room.
I quietly made my way through the crowd and left the court almost
at the same time as Rouletabille. He greeted me heartily, and
"I'll not ask you, my dear fellow," I said, smiling, "what you've
been doing in America; because I've no doubt you'll say you can't
tell me until after half-past six."
"No, my dear Sainclair, I'll tell you right now why I went to
America. I went in search of the name of the other half of the
"The name of the other half?"
"Exactly. When we last left the Glandier I knew there were two
halves to the murderer and the name of only one of them. I went
to America for the name of the other half."
I was too puzzled to answer. Just then we entered the witnesses'
room, and Rouletabille was immediately surrounded. He showed
himself very friendly to all except Arthur Rance to whom he
exhibited a marked coldness of manner. Frederic Larsan came in
also. Rouletabille went up and shook him heartily by the hand.
His manner toward the detective showed that he had got the better
of the policeman. Larsan smiled and asked him what he had been
doing in America, Rouletabille began by telling him some anecdotes
of his voyage. They then turned aside together apparently with
the object of speaking confidentially. I, therefore, discreetly
left them and, being curious to hear the evidence, returned to my
seat in the court-room where the public plainly showed its lack
of interest in what was going on in their impatience for
Rouletabille's return at the appointed time.
On the stroke of half-past six Joseph Rouletabille was again brought
in. It is impossible for me to picture the tense excitement which
appeared on every face, as he made his way to the bar. Darzac rose
to his feet, frightfully pale.
The President, addressing Rouletabille, said gravely:
"I will not ask you to take the oath, because you have not been
regularly summoned; but I trust there is no need to urge upon you
the gravity of the statement you are about to make."
Rouletabille looked the President quite calmly and steadily in the
face, and replied:
"At your last appearance here," said the President, "we had arrived
at the point where you were to tell us how the murderer escaped,
and also his name. Now, Monsieur Rouletabille, we await your
"Very well, Monsieur," began my friend amidst a profound silence.
"I had explained how it was impossible for the murderer to get away
without being seen. And yet he was there with us in the courtyard."
"And you did not see him? At least that is what the prosecution
"No! We all of us saw him, Monsieur le President!" cried
"Then why was he not arrested?"
"Because no one, besides myself, knew that he was the murderer. It
would have spoiled my plans to have had him arrested, and I had then
no proof other than my own reasoning. I was convinced we had the
murderer before us and that we were actually looking at him. I
have now brought what I consider the indisputable proof."
"Speak out, Monsieur! Tell us the murderer's name."
"You will find it on the list of names present in the court on the
night of the tragedy," replied Rouletabille.
The people present in the court-room began showing impatience.
Some of them even called for the name, and were silenced by the
"The list includes Daddy Jacques, Bernier the concierge, and Mr.
Arthur Rance," said the President. "Do you accuse any of these?"
"Then I do not understand what you are driving at. There was no
other person at the end of the court."
"Yes, Monsieur, there was, not at the end, but above the court, who
was leaning out of the window."
"Do you mean Frederic Larsan!" exclaimed the President.
"Yes! Frederic Larsan!" replied Rouletabille in a ringing tone.
"Frederic Larsan is the murderer!"
The court-room became immediately filled with loud and indignant
protests. So astonished was he that the President did not attempt
to quiet it. The quick silence which followed was broken by the
distinctly whispered words from the lips of Robert Darzac:
"It's impossible! He's mad!"
"You dare to accuse Frederic Larsan, Monsieur?" asked the President.
"If you are not mad, what are your proofs?"
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