Arsène Lupin. Based on Play by Maurice Leblanc and Francis De Croisset - Edgar Jepson - ebook

Arsène Lupin. Based on Play by Maurice Leblanc and Francis De Croisset ebook

Edgar Jepson

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This early work was originally a four-act play written by Maurice Leblanc and Francis de Croisset in 1908, and subsequently novelized by Leblanc and then translated by Edgar Jepson into English and published in 1909. Leblanc’s creation, gentleman thief Arsene Lupin, is everything you would expect from a French aristocrat – witty, charming, brilliant, sly and possibly the greatest thief in the world. In this classic tale, Lupin plans to steal priceless objects of art and jewelry from a collector for his own private collection. His brilliant effrontery in the face of the police dares them to catch him with spectacular results! There’s romance, deception, and always something strange going on with all of the characters, really just an overall great read.

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Liczba stron: 347

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Contents

CHAPTER I. THE MILLIONAIRE'S DAUGHTER

CHAPTER II. THE COMING OF THE CHAROLAIS

CHAPTER III. LUPIN'S WAY

CHAPTER IV. THE DUKE INTERVENES

CHAPTER V. A LETTER FROM LUPIN

CHAPTER VI. AGAIN THE CHAROLAIS

CHAPTER VII. THE THEFT OF THE MOTOR-CARS

CHAPTER VIII. THE DUKE ARRIVES

CHAPTER IX. M. FORMERY OPENS THE INQUIRY

CHAPTER X. GUERCHARD ASSISTS

CHAPTER XI. THE FAMILY ARRIVES

CHAPTER XII. THE THEFT OF THE PENDANT

CHAPTER XIII. LUPIN WIRES

CHAPTER XIV. GUERCHARD PICKS UP THE TRUE SCENT

CHAPTER XV. THE EXAMINATION OF SONIA

CHAPTER XVI. VICTOIRE'S SLIP

CHAPTER XVII. SONIA'S ESCAPE

CHAPTER XVIII. THE DUKE STAYS

CHAPTER XIX. THE DUKE GOES

CHAPTER XX. LUPIN COMES HOME

CHAPTER XXI. THE CUTTING OF THE TELEPHONE WIRES

CHAPTER XXII. THE BARGAIN

CHAPTER XXIII. THE END OF THE DUEL

CHAPTER I

THE MILLIONAIRE’S DAUGHTER

The rays of the September sun flooded the great halls of the old chateau of the Dukes of Charmerace, lighting up with their mellow glow the spoils of so many ages and many lands, jumbled together with the execrable taste which so often afflicts those whose only standard of value is money. The golden light warmed the panelled walls and old furniture to a dull lustre, and gave back to the fading gilt of the First Empire chairs and couches something of its old brightness. It illumined the long line of pictures on the walls, pictures of dead and gone Charmeraces, the stern or debonair faces of the men, soldiers, statesmen, dandies, the gentle or imperious faces of beautiful women. It flashed back from armour of brightly polished steel, and drew dull gleams from armour of bronze. The hues of rare porcelain, of the rich inlays of Oriental or Renaissance cabinets, mingled with the hues of the pictures, the tapestry, the Persian rugs about the polished floor to fill the hall with a rich glow of colour.

But of all the beautiful and precious things which the sun-rays warmed to a clearer beauty, the face of the girl who sat writing at a table in front of the long windows, which opened on to the centuries-old turf of the broad terrace, was the most beautiful and the most precious.

It was a delicate, almost frail, beauty. Her skin was clear with the transparent lustre of old porcelain, and her pale cheeks were only tinted with the pink of the faintest roses. Her straight nose was delicately cut, her rounded chin admirably moulded. A lover of beauty would have been at a loss whether more to admire her clear, germander eyes, so melting and so adorable, or the sensitive mouth, with its rather full lips, inviting all the kisses. But assuredly he would have been grieved by the perpetual air of sadness which rested on the beautiful face–the wistful melancholy of the Slav, deepened by something of personal misfortune and suffering.

Her face was framed by a mass of soft fair hair, shot with strands of gold where the sunlight fell on it; and little curls, rebellious to the comb, strayed over her white forehead, tiny feathers of gold.

She was addressing envelopes, and a long list of names lay on her left hand. When she had addressed an envelope, she slipped into it a wedding-card. On each was printed:

“M. Gournay-Martin has the honour to inform you of the marriage of his daughter Germaine to the Duke of Charmerace.”

She wrote steadily on, adding envelope after envelope to the pile ready for the post, which rose in front of her. But now and again, when the flushed and laughing girls who were playing lawn-tennis on the terrace, raised their voices higher than usual as they called the score, and distracted her attention from her work, her gaze strayed through the open window and lingered on them wistfully; and as her eyes came back to her task she sighed with so faint a wistfulness that she hardly knew she sighed. Then a voice from the terrace cried, “Sonia! Sonia!”

“Yes. Mlle. Germaine?” answered the writing girl.

“Tea! Order tea, will you?” cried the voice, a petulant voice, rather harsh to the ear.

“Very well, Mlle. Germaine,” said Sonia; and having finished addressing the envelope under her pen, she laid it on the pile ready to be posted, and, crossing the room to the old, wide fireplace, she rang the bell.

She stood by the fireplace a moment, restoring to its place a rose which had fallen from a vase on the mantelpiece; and her attitude, as with arms upraised she arranged the flowers, displayed the delightful line of a slender figure. As she let fall her arms to her side, a footman entered the room.

“Will you please bring the tea, Alfred,” she said in a charming voice of that pure, bell-like tone which has been Nature’s most precious gift to but a few of the greatest actresses.

“For how many, miss?” said Alfred.

“For four–unless your master has come back.”

“Oh, no; he’s not back yet, miss. He went in the car to Rennes to lunch; and it’s a good many miles away. He won’t be back for another hour.”

“And the Duke–he’s not back from his ride yet, is he?”

“Not yet, miss,” said Alfred, turning to go.

“One moment,” said Sonia. “Have all of you got your things packed for the journey to Paris? You will have to start soon, you know. Are all the maids ready?”

“Well, all the men are ready, I know, miss. But about the maids, miss, I can’t say. They’ve been bustling about all day; but it takes them longer than it does us.”

“Tell them to hurry up; and be as quick as you can with the tea, please,” said Sonia.

Alfred went out of the room; Sonia went back to the writing-table. She did not take up her pen; she took up one of the wedding-cards; and her lips moved slowly as she read it in a pondering depression.

The petulant, imperious voice broke in upon her musing.

“Whatever are you doing, Sonia? Aren’t you getting on with those letters?” it cried angrily; and Germaine Gournay-Martin came through the long window into the hall.

The heiress to the Gournay-Martin millions carried her tennis racquet in her hand; and her rosy cheeks were flushed redder than ever by the game. She was a pretty girl in a striking, high-coloured, rather obvious way–the very foil to Sonia’s delicate beauty. Her lips were a little too thin, her eyes too shallow; and together they gave her a rather hard air, in strongest contrast to the gentle, sympathetic face of Sonia.

The two friends with whom Germaine had been playing tennis followed her into the hall: Jeanne Gautier, tall, sallow, dark, with a somewhat malicious air; Marie Bullier, short, round, commonplace, and sentimental.

They came to the table at which Sonia was at work; and pointing to the pile of envelopes, Marie said, “Are these all wedding-cards?”

“Yes; and we’ve only got to the letter V,” said Germaine, frowning at Sonia.

“Princesse de Vernan–Duchesse de Vauvieuse–Marquess–Marchioness? You’ve invited the whole Faubourg Saint-Germain,” said Marie, shuffling the pile of envelopes with an envious air.

“You’ll know very few people at your wedding,” said Jeanne, with a spiteful little giggle.

“I beg your pardon, my dear,” said Germaine boastfully. “Madame de Relzieres, my fiance’s cousin, gave an At Home the other day in my honour. At it she introduced half Paris to me–the Paris I’m destined to know, the Paris you’ll see in my drawing-rooms.”

“But we shall no longer be fit friends for you when you’re the Duchess of Charmerace,” said Jeanne.

“Why?” said Germaine; and then she added quickly, “Above everything, Sonia, don’t forget Veauleglise, 33, University Street–33, University Street.”

“Veauleglise–33, University Street,” said Sonia, taking a fresh envelope, and beginning to address it.

“Wait–wait! don’t close the envelope. I’m wondering whether Veauleglise ought to have a cross, a double cross, or a triple cross,” said Germaine, with an air of extreme importance.

“What’s that?” cried Marie and Jeanne together.

“A single cross means an invitation to the church, a double cross an invitation to the marriage and the wedding-breakfast, and the triple cross means an invitation to the marriage, the breakfast, and the signing of the marriage-contract. What do you think the Duchess of Veauleglise ought to have?”

“Don’t ask me. I haven’t the honour of knowing that great lady,” cried Jeanne.

“Nor I,” said Marie.

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