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Arsene Lupin vs. Herlock Sholmes is a collection of two adventures of Arsène Lupin, written by Maurice Leblanc. These adventures feature a match of wits between Lupin and Herlock Sholmes, a transparent reference to Sherlock Holmes, the hero of Conan Doyle's detective stories. It follows the appearance of Arsene Lupin, Gentleman Burglar, in which Sherlock Holmes also makes an appearance in "Sherlock Holmes Arrives Too Late". The collection was translated twice into English, as Arsene Lupin versus Herlock Sholmes in the U.S. (1910, by George Morehead), and as Arsene Lupin versus Holmlock Shears in the UK (1910, by Alexander Teixeira de Mattos, printed as The Blonde Lady in the U.S.) The first story, "The Blonde Lady", opens with the purchase of an antique desk by a mathematics professor. The desk is subsequently stolen, as it turns out, by Arsène Lupin. Later, both Lupin and the professor realize that a lottery ticket, left inadvertently in the desk, is the winning ticket, and Lupin proceeds to ensure he obtains half of the winnings while executing a near-impossible escape with a blonde lady. After the theft of the Blue Diamond, again by a blonde lady, Ganimard made the connection to Lupin and an appeal was made to Herlock Sholmes to match wits with Lupin. Inadvertently, Lupin and his biographer met with the newly arrived Sholmes and his assistant, Wilson, in a Parisian restaurant, and they shared a cautious détente before Lupin sets off to lay his traps. Despite Lupin's efforts, Sholmes is able to unveil the identity of the blonde lady and Lupin's involvement in the crimes linked to her. Lupin succeeded in trapping Sholmes, however, and sends him off to Southampton in a boat, but Sholmes manages to escape back to Paris and engineer the arrest of Lupin. After Sholmes leaves, however, Lupin outfoxes his French captors and manages to bid farewell to Sholmes and Wilson at the Gare du Nord.
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ARSENE LUPIN VS. HERLOCK SHOLMES
Copyright © 2017 by Maurice LeBlanc.
All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations em- bodied in critical articles or reviews.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organiza- tions, places, events and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
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Sheba Blake Publishing
Book and Cover design by Sheba Blake Publishing
First Edition: January 2017
TABLE OF CONTENTS
THE BLONDE LADY
LOTTERY TICKET NO. 514.
ON the eighth day of last December, Mon. Gerbois, professor of mathematics at the College of Versailles, while rummaging in an old curiosity-shop, unearthed a small mahogany writing-desk which pleased him very much on account of the multiplicity of its drawers.
"Just the thing for Suzanne's birthday present," thought he. And as he always tried to furnish some simple pleasures for his daughter, consistent with his modest income, he enquired the price, and, after some keen bargaining, purchased it for sixty-five francs. As he was giving his address to the shop keeper, a young man, dressed with elegance and taste, who had been exploring the stock of antiques, caught sight of the writing-desk, and immediately enquired its price.
"It is sold," replied the shopkeeper.
"Ah! to this gentleman, I presume!"
Monsieur Gerhois bowed, and left the store, quite proud to be the possessor of an article which had attracted the attention of a gentleman of quality. But he had not taken a dozen steps in the street, when he was overtaken by the young man who, hat in hand and in a tone of perfect courtesy, thus addressed him:
"I beg your pardon, monsieur; I am going to ask you a question that you may deem impertinent. It is this: Did you have any special object in view when you bought that writing-desk?"
"No, I came across it by chance and it struck my fancy."
"But you do not care for it particularly?"
"Oh! I shall keep it that is all."
"Because it is an antique, perhaps?"
"No; because it is convenient," declared Mon. Gerbois.
"In that case, you would consent to exchange it for another desk that would be quite as convenient and in better condition?"
"Oh! this one is in good condition, and I see no object in making an exchange."
Mon. Gerbois is a man of irritable disposition and hasty temper. So he replied, testily:
"I beg of you, monsieur, do not insist."
But the young man firmly held his ground.
"I don't know how much you paid for it, monsieur, but I offer you double."
"Three times the amount."
"Oh! that will do," exclaimed the professor, impatiently; "I don't wish to sell it."
The young man stared at him for a moment in a manner that Mon. Gerbois would not readily forget, then turned and walked rapidly away.
An hour later, the desk was delivered at the professor's house on the Viroflay road. He called his daughter, and said:
"Here is something for you, Suzanne, provided you like it."
Suzanne was a pretty girl, with a gay and affectionate nature. She threw her arms around her father's neck and kissed him rapturously. To her, the desk had all the semblance of a royal gift. That evening, assisted by Hortense, the servant, she placed the desk in her room; then she dusted it, cleaned the drawers and pigeon-holes, and carefully arranged within it her papers, writing material, correspondence, a collection of postcards, and some souvenirs of her cousin Philippe that she kept in secret.
Next morning, at half past seven, Mon. Gerbois went to the college. At ten o clock, in pursuance of her usual custom, Suzanne went to meet him, and it was a great pleasure for him to see her slender figure and childish smile waiting for him at the college gate. They returned home together.
"And your writing desk--how is it this morning?"
"Marvellous! Hortense and I have polished the brass mountings until they look like gold."
"So you are pleased with it?"
"Pleased with it! Why, I don't see how I managed to get on without it for such a long time.
As they were walking up the pathway to the house, Mon. Gerbois said:
"Shall we go and take a look at it before breakfast?"
"Oh! yes, that's a splendid idea!"
She ascended the stairs ahead of her father, but, on arriving at the door of her room, she uttered a cry of surprise and dismay.
"What's the matter?" stammered Mon. Gerbois.
"The writing-desk is gone!"
* * *
When the police were called in, they were astonished at the admirable simplicity of the means employed by the thief. During Suzanne's absence, the servant had gone to market, and while the house was thus left unguarded, a drayman, wearing a badge--some of the neighbors saw it--stopped his cart in front of the house and rang twice. Not knowing that Hortense was absent, the neighbors were not suspicious; consequently, the man carried on his work in peace and tranquility.
Apart from the desk, not a thing in the house had been disturbed. Even Suzanne's purse, which she had left upon the writing-desk, was found upon an adjacent table with its contents untouched. It was obvious that the thief had come with a set purpose, which rendered the crime even more mysterious; because, why did he assume so great a risk for such a trifling object?
The only clue the professor could furnish was the strange incident of the preceding evening. He declared:
"The young man was greatly provoked at my refusal, and I had an idea that he threatened me as he went away."
But the clue was a vague one. The shopkeeper could not throw any light on the affair. He did not know either of the gentlemen. As to the desk itself, he had purchased it for forty francs at an executor's sale at Chevreuse, and believed he had resold it at its fair value. The police investigation disclosed nothing more.
But Mon. Gerbois entertained the idea that he had suffered an enormous loss. There must have been a fortune concealed in a secret drawer, and that was the reason the young man had resorted to crime.
"My poor father, what would we have done with that fortune?" asked Suzanne.
"My child! with such a fortune, you could make a most advantageous marriage."
Suzanne sighed bitterly. Her aspirations soared no higher than her cousin Philippe, who was indeed a most deplorable object. And life, in the little house at Versailles, was not so happy and contented as of yore.
Two months passed away. Then came a succession of startling events, a strange blending of good luck and dire misfortune!
On the first day of February, at half-past five, Mon. Gerbois entered the house, carrying an evening paper, took a seat, put on his spectacles, and commenced to read. As politics did not interest him, he turned to the inside of the paper. Immediately his attention was attracted by an article entitled:
"Third Drawing of the Press Association Lottery.
"No. 514, series 23, draws a million."
The newspaper slipped from his fingers. The walls swam before his eyes, and his heart ceased to beat. He held No. 514, series 23. He had purchased it from a friend, to oblige him, without any thought of success, and behold, it was the lucky number!
Quickly, he took out his memorandum-book. Yes, he was quite right. The No. 514, series 23, was written there, on the inside of the cover. But the ticket!
He rushed to his desk to find the envelope-box in which he had placed the precious ticket; but the box was not there, and it suddenly occurred to him that it had not been there for several weeks. He heard footsteps on the gravel walk leading from the street.
She was returning from a walk. She entered hastily. He stammered, in a choking voice:
"Suzanne... the box... the box of envelopes?"
"The one I bought at the Louvre... one Saturday... it was at the end of that table."
"Don't you remember, father, we put all those things away together."
"The evening... you know... the same evening..."
"But where?... Tell me, quick! ... Where?"
"Where? Why, in the writing-desk."
"In the writing-desk that was stolen?"
"Oh, mon Dieu!... In the stolen desk!"
He uttered the last sentence in a low voice, in a sort of stupor. Then he seized her hand, and in a still lower voice, he said:
"It contained a million, my child."
"Ah! father, why didn't you tell me!" she murmured, naively.
"A million!" he repeated. "It contained the ticket that drew the grand prize in the Press Lottery."
The colossal proportions of the disaster overwhelmed them, and for a long time they maintained a silence that they feared to break. At last, Suzanne said:
"But, father, they will pay you just the same."
"How? On what proof?
"Must you have proof?"
"And you haven't any?"
"It was in the box."
"In the box that has disappeared."
"Yes; and now the thief will get the money."
"Oh! that would be terrible, father. You must prevent it."
For a moment he was silent; then, in an outburst of energy, he leaped up, stamped on the floor, and exclaimed:
"No, no, he shall not have that million; he shall not have it! Why should he have it? Ah! clever as he is, he can do nothing. If he goes to claim the money, they will arrest him. Ah! now, we will see, my fine fellow!"
"What will you do, father!"
"Defend our just rights, whatever happens! And we will succeed. The million francs belong to me, and I intend to have them."
A few minutes later, he sent this telegram:
"Governor Credit Foncier
"rue Capucines, Paris.
"Am holder of No. 514, series 23. Oppose by all legal means any other claimant.
Almost at the same moment, the Credit Foncier received the following telegram:
"No. 514, series 23, is in my possession.
* * * *
Every time I undertake to relate one of the many extraordinary adventures that mark the life of Arsene Lupin, I experience a feeling of embarrassment, as it seems to me that the most commonplace of those adventures is already well known to my readers. In fact, there is not a movement of our "national thief," as he has been so aptly described, that has not been given the widest publicity, not an exploit that has not been studied in all its phases, not an action that has not been discussed with that particularity usually reserved for the recital of heroic deeds.
For instance, who does not know the strange history of l The Blonde Lady, with those curious episodes which were proclaimed by the newspapers with heavy black head lines, as follows: "Lottery Ticket No. 514!" ... "The Crime on the Avenue Henri-Martin!"... "The Blue Diamond!" ... The interest created by the intervention of the celebrated English detective, Herlock Sholmes! The excitement aroused by the various vicissitudes which marked the struggle between those famous artists! And what a commotion on the boulevards, the day on which the newsboys announced: "Arrest of Arsene Lupin!"
My excuse for repeating these stories at this time is the fact that I produce the key to the enigma. Those adventures have always been enveloped in a certain degree of obscurity, which I now remove. I reproduce old newspaper articles, I relate old-time in terviews, I present ancient letters; but I have arranged and classified all that material and reduced it to the exact truth. My collaborators in this work have been Arsene Lupin himself, and also the ineffable Wilson, the friend and confidant of Herlock Sholmes.
Every one will recall the tremendous burst of laughter which greeted the publication of those two telegrams. The name "Arsene Lupin" was in itself a stimulus to curiosity, a promise of amusement for the gallery. And, in this case, the gallery means the entire world.
An investigation was immediately commenced by the Credit Foncier, which established these facts: That ticket No. 514, series 23, had been sold by the Versailles branch office of the Lottery to an artillery officer named Bessy, who was afterward killed by a fall from his horse. Some time before his death, he informed some of his comrades that he had transferred his ticket to a friend.
"And I am that friend," affirmed Mon. Gerbois.
"Prove it," replied the governor of the Credit Foncier.
"Of course I can prove it. Twenty people can tell you that I was an intimate friend of Monsieur Bessy, and that we frequently met at the Cafe de la Place-d Armes. It was there, one day, I purchased the ticket from him for twenty francs simply as an accommodation to him.
"Have you any witnesses to that transaction?"
"Well, how do you expect to prove it?"
"By a letter he wrote to me."
"A letter that was pinned to the ticket."
"It was stolen at the same time as the ticket."
"Well, you must find it."
It was soon learned that Arsene Lupin had the letter. A short paragraph appeared in the Echo de France which has the honor to be his official organ, and of which, it is said, he is one of the principal shareholders the paragraph announced that Arsene Lupin had placed in the hands of Monsieur Detinan, his advocate and legal adviser, the letter that Monsieur Bessy had written to him to him personally.
This announcement provoked an outburst of laughter. Arsene Lupin had engaged a lawyer! Arsene Lupin, conforming to the rules and customs of modern society, had appointed a legal representative in the person of a well-known member of the Parisian bar!
Mon. Detinan had never enjoyed the pleasure of meeting Arsene Lupin--a fact he deeply regretted--but he had actually been retained by that mysterious gentleman and felt greatly honored by the choice. He was prepared to defend the interests of his client to the best of his ability. He was pleased, even proud, to exhibit the letter of Mon. Bessy, but, although it proved the transfer of the ticket, it did not mention the name of the purchaser. It was simply addressed to "My Dear Friend."
"My Dear Friend! that is I," added Arsene Lupin, in a note attached to Mon. Bessy's letter. "And the best proof of that fact is that I hold the letter."
The swarm of reporters immediately rushed to see Mon. Gerbois, who could only repeat:
"My Dear Friend! that is I... Arsene Lupin stole the letter with the lottery ticket."
"Let him prove it!" retorted Lupin to the reporters.
"He must have done it, because he stole the writing-desk!" exclaimed Mon. Gerbois before the same reporters.
"Let him prove it!" replied Lupin.
Such was the entertaining comedy enacted by the two claimants of ticket No. 514; and the calm demeanor of Arsene Lupin contrasted strangely with the nervous perturbation of poor Mon. Gerbois. The newspapers were filled with the lamentations of that unhappy man. He announced his misfortune with pathetic candor.
"Understand, gentlemen, it was Suzanne's dowry that the rascal stole! Personally, I don't care a straw for it,... but for Suzanne! Just think of it, a whole million! Ten times one hundred thousand francs! Ah! I knew very well that the desk contained a treasure!"
It was in vain to tell him that his adversary, when stealing the desk, was unaware that the lottery ticket was in it, and that, in any event, he could not foresee that the ticket would draw the grand prize. He would reply:
"Nonsense! of course, he knew it... else why would he take the trouble to steal a poor, miserable desk?"
"For some unknown reason; but certainly not for a small scrap of paper which was then worth only twenty francs."
"A million francs! He knew it;... he knows everything! Ah! you do not know him the scoundrel!... He hasn't robbed you of a million francs!
The controversy would have lasted for a much longer time, but, on the twelfth day, Mon. Gerbois received from Arsene Lupin a letter, marked "confidential," which read as follows:
"Monsieur, the gallery is being amused at our expense. Do you not think it is time for us to be serious! The situation is this: I possess a ticket to which I have no legal right, and you have the legal right to a ticket you do not possess. Neither of us can do anything. You will not relinquish your rights to me; I will not deliver the ticket to you. Now, what is to be done?
"I see only one way out of the difficulty: Let us divide the spoils. A half-million for you; a half-million for me. Is not that a fair division? In my opinion, it is an equitable solution, and an immediate one. I will give you three days time to consider the proposition. On Thursday morning I shall expect to read in the personal column of the Echo de France a discreet message addressed to M. Ars. Lup, expressing in veiled terms your consent to my offer. By so doing you will recover immediate possession of the ticket; then you can collect the money and send me half a million in a manner that I will describe to you later.
"In case of your refusal, I shall resort to other measures to accomplish the same result. But, apart from the very serious annoyances that such obstinacy on your part will cause you, it will cost you twenty-five thousand francs for supplementary expenses.
"Believe me, monsieur, I remain your devoted servant, ARSENE LUPIN."
In a fit of exasperation Mon. Gerbois committed the grave mistake of showing that letter and allowing a copy of it to be taken. His indignation overcame his discretion.
"Nothing! He shall have nothing!" he exclaimed, before a crowd of reporters. "To divide my property with him? Never! Let him tear up the ticket if he wishes!
"Yet five hundred thousand francs is better than nothing."
"That is not the question. It is a question of my just right, and that right I will establish before the courts.
"What! attack Arsene Lupin! That would be amusing."
"No; but the Credit Foncier. They must pay me the million francs."
"Without producing the ticket, or, at least, without proving that you bought it?"
"That proof exists, since Arsene Lupin admits that he stole the writing-desk."
"But would the word of Arsene Lupin carry any weight with the court?
"No matter; I will fight it out."
The gallery shouted with glee; and wagers were freely made upon the result with the odds in favor of Lupin. On the following Thursday the personal column in the Echo de France was eagerly perused by the expectant public, but it contained nothing ad dressed to M. Ars. Lup. Mon. Gerbois had not replied to Arsene Lupin's letter. That was the declaration of war.
That evening the newspapers announced the abduction of Mlle. Suzanne Gerbois.
* * * *
The most entertaining feature in what might be called the Arsene Lupin dramas is the comic attitude displayed by the Parisian police. Arsene Lupin talks, plans, writes, commands, threatens and executes as if the police did not exist. They never figure in his calculations.
And yet the police do their utmost. But what can they do against such a foe--a foe that scorns and ignores them?
Suzanne had left the house at twenty minutes to ten; such was the testimony of the servant. On leaving the college, at five minutes past ten, her father did not find her at the place she was accustomed to wait for him. Consequently, whatever had happened must have occurred during the course of Suzanne's walk from the house to the college. Two neighbors had met her about three hundred yards from the house. A lady had seen, on the avenue, a young girl corresponding to Suzanne's description. No one else had seen her.
Inquiries were made in all directions; the employees of the railways and street-car lines were questioned, but none of them had seen anything of the missing girl. However, at Ville-d Avray, they found a shopkeeper who had furnished gasoline to an automobile that had come from Paris on the day of the abduction. It was occupied by a blonde woman extremely blonde, said the witness. An hour later, the automobile again passed through Ville-d Avray on its way from Versailles to Paris. The shopkeeper declared that the automobile now contained a second woman who was heavily veiled. No doubt, it was Suzanne Gerbois.
The abduction must have taken place in broad daylight, on a frequented street, in the very heart of the town. How? And at what spot? Not a cry was heard; not a suspicious action had been seen. The shopkeeper described the automobile as a royal-blue limousine of twenty-four horse-power made by the firm of Peugeon & Co. Inquiries were then made at the Grand-Garage, managed by Madame Bob-Walthour, who made a specialty of abductions by automobile. It was learned that she had rented a Peugeon limousine on that day to a blonde woman whom she had never seen before nor since.
"Who was the chauffeur!"
"A young man named Ernest, whom I had engaged only the day before. He came well recommended.
"Is he here now!"
"No. He brought back the machine, but I haven't seen him since," said Madame Bob-Walthour.
"Do you know where we can find him!"
"You might see the people who recommended him to me. Here are the names."
Upon inquiry, it was learned that none of these people knew the man called Ernest. The recommendations were forged.
Such was the fate of every clue followed by the police. It ended nowhere. The mystery remained unsolved.
Mon. Gerbois had not the strength or courage to wage such an unequal battle. The disappearance of his daughter crushed him; he capitulated to the enemy. A short announcement in the Echo de France proclaimed his unconditional surrender.
Two days later, Mon. Gerbois visited the office of the Credit Foncier and handed lottery ticket number 514, series 23, to the governor, who exclaimed, with surprise:
"Ah! you have it! He has returned it to you!"
"It was mislaid. That was all," replied Mon. Gerbois.
"But you pretended that it had been stolen."
"At first, I thought it had... but here it is."
"We will require some evidence to establish your right to the ticket."
"Will the letter of the purchaser, Monsieur Bessy, be sufficient!"
"Yes, that will do."
"Here it is," said Mon. Gerbois, producing the letter.
"Very well. Leave these papers with us. The rules of the lottery allow us fifteen days time to investigate your claim. I will let you know when to call for your money. I presume you desire, as much as I do, that this affair should be closed without further publicity."
Mon. Gerbois and the governor henceforth maintained a discreet silence. But the secret was revealed in some way, for it was soon commonly known that Arsene Lupin had returned the lottery ticket to Mon. Gerbois. The public received the news with astonish ment and admiration. Certainly, he was a bold gamester who thus threw upon the table a trump card of such importance as the precious ticket. But, it was true, he still retained a trump card of equal importance. However, if the young girl should escape? If the hostage held by Arsene Lupin should be rescued?
The police thought they had discovered the weak spot of the enemy, and now redoubled their efforts. Arsene Lupin disarmed by his own act, crushed by the wheels of his own machination, deprived of every sou of the coveted million... public interest now centered in the camp of his adversary.
But it was necessary to find Suzanne. And they did not find her, nor did she escape. Consequently, it must be admitted, Arsene Lupin had won the first hand. But the game was not yet decided. The most difficult point remained. Mlle. Gerbois is in his possession, and he will hold her until he receives five hundred thousand francs. But how and where will such an exchange be made? For that purpose, a meeting must be arranged, and then what will prevent Mon. Gerbois from warning the police and, in that way, effecting the rescue of his daughter and, at the same time, keeping his money! The professor was interviewed, but he was extremely reticent. His answer was:
"I have nothing to say."
"And Mlle. Gerbois!
"The search is being continued."
"But Arsene Lupin has written to you?"
"Do you swear to that?"
"Then it is true. What are his instructions?"
"I have nothing to say."
Then the interviewers attacked Mon. Detinan, and found his equally discreet.
"Monsieur Lupin is my client, and I can not discuss his affairs," he replied, with an affected air of gravity.
These mysteries served to irritate the gallery. Obviously, some secret negotiations were in progress. Arsene Lupin had arranged and tightened the meshes of his net, while the police maintained a close watch, day and night, over Mon. Gerbois. And the three and only possible denouements the arrest, the triumph, or the ridiculous and pitiful abortion were freely discussed; but the curiosity of the public was only partially satisfied, and it was reserved for these pages to reveal the exact truth of the affair.
* * * *
On Monday, March 12th, Mon. Gerbois received a notice from the Credit Foncier. On Wednesday, he took the one o clock train for Paris. At two o clock, a thousand bank-notes of one thousand francs each were delivered to him. Whilst he was counting them, one by one, in a state of nervous agitation that money, which represented Suzanne's ransom a carriage containing two men stopped at the curb a short distance from the bank. One of the men had grey hair and an unusually shrewd expression which formed a striking contrast to his shabby make-up. It was Detective Ganimard, the relentless enemy of Arsene Lupin. Ganimard said to his companion, Folenfant:
"In five minutes, we will see our clever friend Lupin. Is everything ready?
"How many men have we?"
"Eight--two of them on bicycles."
"Enough, but not too many. On no account, must Gerbois escape us; if he does, it is all up. He will meet Lupin at the appointed place, give half a million in exchange for the girl, and the game will be over."
"But why doesn't Gerbois work with us? That would be the better way, and he could keep all the money himself."
"Yes, but he is afraid that if he deceives the other, he will not get his daughter."
Ganimard pronounced the word in a solemn tone, somewhat timidly, as if he were speaking of some supernatural creature whose claws he already felt.
"It is very strange, " remarked Folenfant, judiciously, "that we are obliged to protect this gentleman contrary to his own wishes!"
"Yes, but Lupin always turns the world upside down," said Ganimard, mournfully.
A moment later, Mon. Gerbois appeared, and started up the street. At the end of the rue des Capucines, he turned into the boulevards, walking slowly, and stopping frequently to gaze at the shop-windows.
"Much too calm, too self-possessed, " said Ganimard. "A man with a million in his pocket would not have that air of tranquillity."
"What is he doing?"
"Oh! nothing, evidently... But I have a suspicion that it is Lupin--yes, Lupin!"
At that moment, Mon. Gerbois stopped at a news-stand, purchased a paper, unfolded it and commenced to read it as he walked slowly away. A moment later, he gave a sudden bound into an automobile that was standing at the curb. Apparently, the machine had been waiting for him, as it started away rapidly, turned at the Madeleine and disappeared.
"Nom de nom!" cried Ganimard, "that's one of his old tricks!
Ganimard hastened after the automobile around the Madeleine. Then, he burst into laughter. At the entrance to the Boulevard Malesherbes, the automobile had stopped and Mon Gerbois had alighted.
"Quick, Folenfant, the chauffeur! It may be the man Ernest."
Folenfant interviewed the chauffeur. His name was Gaston; he was an employee of the automobile cab company; ten minutes ago, a gentleman had engaged him and told him to wait near the news-stand for another gentleman.
"And the second man--what address did he give?" asked Folenfant.
"No address. Boulevard Malesherbes ... avenue de Messine... double pourboire. That is all."
But, during this time, Mon. Gerbois had leaped into the first passing carriage.
"To the Concorde station, Metropolitan," he said to the driver.
He left the underground at the Place du Palais-Royal, ran to another carriage and ordered it to go to the Place de la Bourse. Then a second journey by the underground to the Avenue de Villiers, followed by a third carriage drive to number 25 rue Clapeyron.
Number 25 rue Clapeyron is separated from the Boulevard des Batignolles by the house which occupies the angle formed by the two streets. He ascended to the first floor and rang. A gentleman opened the door.
"Does Monsieur Detinan live here?"
"Yes, that is my name. Are you Monsieur Gerbois!"
"I was expecting you. Step in."
As Mon. Gerbois entered the lawyer's office, the clock struck three. He said:
"I am prompt to the minute. Is he here?"
Mon. Gerbois took a seat, wiped his forehead, looked at his watch as if he did not know the time, and inquired, anxiously:
"Will he come?"
"Well, monsieur," replied the lawyer, "that I do not know, but I am quite as anxious and impatient as you are to find out. If he comes, he will run a great risk, as this house has been closely watched for the last two weeks. They distrust me."
"They suspect me, too. I am not sure whether the detectives lost sight of me or not on my way here."
"But you were--"
"It wouldn't be my fault," cried the professor, quickly. "You cannot reproach me. I promised to obey his orders, and I followed them to the very letter. I drew the money at the time fixed by him, and I came here in the manner directed by him. I have faithfully performed my part of the agreement--let him do his!
After a short silence, he asked, anxiously:
"He will bring my daughter, won't he?"
"I--I expect so."
"But... you have seen him!"
"I? No, not yet. He made the appointment by letter, saying both of you would be here, and asking me to dismiss my servants before three o clock and admit no one while you were here. If I would not consent to that arrangement, I was to notify him by a few words in the Echo de France. But I am only too happy to oblige Mon. Lupin, and so I consented."
"Ah! how will this end?" moaned Mon. Gerbois.
He took the bank-notes from his pocket, placed them on the table and divided them into two equal parts. Then the two men sat there in silence. From time to time, Mon. Gerbois would listen. Did someone ring! ... His nervousness increased every minute, and Monsieur Detinan also displayed considerable anxiety. At last, the lawyer lost his patience. He rose abruptly, and said:
"He will not come... We shouldn't expect it. It would be folly on his part. He would run too great a risk."
And Mon. Gerbois, despondent, his hands resting on the bank-notes, stammered:
"Oh! Mon Dieu! I hope he will come. I would give the whole of that money to see my daughter again."
The door opened.
"Half of it will be sufficient, Monsieur Gerbois."
These words were spoken by a well-dressed young man who now entered the room and was immediately recognized by Mon. Gerbois as the person who had wished to buy the desk from him at Versailles. He rushed toward him.
"Where is my daughter my Suzanne?"
Arsene Lupin carefully closed the door, and, while slowly removing his gloves, said to the lawyer:
"My dear maitre, I am indebted to you very much for your kindness in consenting to defend my interests. I shall not forget it."
Mon. Detinan murmured:
"But you did not ring. I did not hear the door--"
"Doors and bells are things that should work without being heard. I am here, and that is the important point."
"My daughter! Suzanne! Where is she? repeated the professor.
"Mon Dieu, monsieur," said Lupin, "what's your hurry? Your daughter will be here in a moment."
Lupin walked to and fro for a minute, then, with the pompous air of an orator, he said:
"Monsieur Gerbois, I congratulate you on the clever way in which you made the jour ney to this place."
Then, perceiving the two piles of bank notes, he exclaimed:
"Ah! I see! the million is here. We will not lose any time. Permit me."
"One moment," said the lawyer, placing
Mmself before the table. "Mlle. Gerbois has not yet arrived."
"Is not her presence indispensable!"
"I understand! I understand! Arsene Lupin inspires only a limited confidence. He might pocket the half-million and not restore the hostage. Ah! monsieur, people do not understand me. Because I have been obliged, by force of circumstances, to commit certain actions a little... out of the ordinary, my good faith is impugned... I, who have always observed the utmost scrupulosity and delicacy in business affairs. Besides, my dear monsieur if you have any fear, open the window and call. There are at least a dozen detectives in the street."
"Do you think so?"
Arsene Lupin raised the curtain.
"I think that Monsieur Gerbois could not throw Ganimard off the scent... What did I tell you f There he is now.
"Is it possible!" exclaimed the professor. "But I swear to you--"
"That you have not betrayed me?... I do not doubt you, but those fellows are clever sometimes. Ah! I can see Folenfant, and Greaume, and Dieuzy--all good friends of mine!"
Mon. Detinan looked at Lupin in amazement. What assurance! He laughed as merrily as if engaged in some childish sport, as if no danger threatened him. This unconcern reassured the lawyer more than the presence of the detectives. He left the table on which the bank-notes were lying. Arsene Lupin picked up one pile of bills after the other, took from each of them twenty-five bank-notes which he offered to Mon. Detinan, saying:
"The reward of your services to Monsieur Gerbois and Arsene Lupin. You well deserve it."
"You owe me nothing." replied the lawyer.
"What! After all the trouble we have caused you!
"And all the pleasure you have given me!"
"That means, my dear monsieur, that you do not wish to accept anything from Arsene Lupin. See what it is to have a bad reputation."
He then offered the fifty thousand francs to Mon. Gerbois, saying:
"Monsieur, in memory of our pleasant interview, permit me to return you this as a wedding-gift to Mlle. Gerbois."
Mon. Gerbois took the money, but said: "My daughter will not marry."
"She will not marry if you refuse your consent; but she wishes to marry."
"What do you know about it?"
"I know that young girls often dream of such things unknown to their parents. Fortunately, there are sometimes good genii like Arsene Lupin who discover their little secrets in the drawers of their writing desks."
"Did you find anything else!" asked the lawyer. "I confess I am curious to know why you took so much trouble to get possession of that desk."
"On account of its historic interest, my friend. Although despite the opinion of Monsieur Gerbois, the desk contained no treasure except the lottery ticket--and that was unknown to me--I had been seeking it for a long time. That writing-desk of yew and mahogany was discovered in the little house in which Marie Walewska once lived in Boulogne, and, on one of the drawers there is this inscription: Dedicated to Napoleon I, Emperor of the French, by his very faithful servant, Mancion. And above it, these words, engraved with the point of a knife: 'To you, Marie.' Afterwards, Napoleon had a similar desk made for the Empress Josephine; so that the secretary that was so much admired at the Malmaison was only an imperfect copy of the one that will henceforth form part of my collection."
"Ah! if I had known, when in the shop, I would gladly have given it up to you," said the professor.
Arsene Lupin smiled, as he replied:
"And you would have had the advantage of keeping for your own use lottery ticket number 514."
"And you would not have found it necessary to abduct my daughter."
"Abduct your daughter!"
"My dear monsieur, you are mistaken. Mlle. Gerbois was not abducted."
"Certainly not. Abduction means force or violence. And I assure you that she served as hostage of her own free will."
"Of her own free will!" repeated Mon. Gerbois, in amazement.
"In fact, she almost asked to be taken. Why, do you suppose that an intelligent young girl like Mlle. Gerbois, and who, more over, nourishes an unacknowledged passion, would hesitate to do what was necessary to secure her dowry. Ah! I swear to you it was not difficult to make her understand that it was the only way to overcome your obstinacy.
Mon. Detinan was greatly amused. He replied to Lupin:
"But I should think it was more difficult to get her to listen to you. How did you approach her?"
"Oh! I didn't approach her myself. I have not the honor of her acquaintance. A friend of mine, a lady, carried on the negotiations."
"The blonde woman in the automobile, no doubt."
"Precisely. All arrangements were made at the first interview near the college. Since then, Mlle. Gerbois and her new friend have been travelling in Belgium and Holland in a manner that should prove most pleasing and instructive to a young girl. She will tell you all about it herself--"
The bell of the vestibule door rang, three rings in quick succession, followed by two isolated rings.
"It is she," said Lupin. "Monsieur Detinan, if you will be so kind--"
The lawyer hastened to the door.
Two young women entered. One of them threw herself into the arms of Mon. Gerbois. The other approached Lupin. The latter was a tall woman of a good figure, very pale complexion, and with blond hair, parted over her forehead in undulating waves, that glistened and shone like the setting sun. She was dressed in black, with no display of jewelled ornaments; but, on the contrary, her appearance indicated good taste and refined elegance. Arsene Lupin spoke a few words to her; then, bowing to Mlle. Gerbois, he said:
"I owe you an apology, mademoiselle, for all your troubles, but I hope you have not been too unhappy
"Unhappy! Why, I should have been very happy, indeed, if it hadn't been for leaving my poor father."
"Then all is for the best. Kiss him again, and take advantage of the opportunity--it is an excellent one--to speak to him about your cousin."
"My cousin! What do you mean? I don't understand."
"Of course, you understand. Your cousin Philippe. The young man whose letters you kept so carefully."
Suzanne blushed; but, following Lupin's advice, she again threw herself into her father's arms. Lupin gazed upon them with a tender look.
"Ah! Such is my reward for a virtuous act! What a touching picture! A happy father and a happy daughter! And to know that their joy is your work, Lupin! Here after these people will bless you, and reverently transmit your name unto their descendants, even unto the fourth generation. What a glorious reward, Lupin, for one act of kindness!"
He walked to the window.
"Is dear old Ganimard still waiting? ... He would like very much to be present at this charming domestic scene! ... Ah! he is not there... Nor any of the others... I don't see any one. The deuce! The situation is becoming serious. I dare say they are already under the porte-cochere... talking to the concierge, perhaps... or, even, ascending the stairs!"
Mon. Gerbois made a sudden movement.
Now, that his daughter had been restored to him, he saw the situation in a different light. To him, the arrest of his adversary meant half-a-million francs. Instinctively, he made a step forward. As if by chance, Lupin stood in his way.
"Where are you going, Monsieur Gerbois? To defend me against them? That is very kind of you, but I assure you it is not necessary. They are more worried than I."
Then he continued to speak, with calm deliberation:
"But, really, what do they know! That you are here, and, perhaps, that Mlle. Gerbois is here, for they may have seen her ar rive with an unknown lady. But they do not imagine that I am here. How is it possible that I could be in a house that they ransacked from cellar to garret this morning? They suppose that the unknown lady was sent by me to make the exchange, and they will be ready to arrest her when she goes out."
At that moment, the bell rang. With a brusque movement, Lupin seized Mon. Gerbois, and said to him, in an imperious tone:
"Do not move! Remember your daughter, and be prudent--otherwise... As to you, Monsieur Detinan, I have your promise."
Mon. Gerbois was rooted to the spot. The lawyer did not stir. Without the least sign of haste, Lupin picked up his hat and brushed the dust from off it with his sleeve.
"My dear Monsieur Detinan, if I can ever be of service to you... My best wishes, Mademoiselle Suzanne, and my kind regards to Monsieur Philippe."
He drew a heavy gold watch from his pocket.
"Monsieur Gerbois, it is now forty-two minutes past three. At forty-six minutes past three, I give you permission to leave this room. Not one minute sooner than forty-six minutes past three."
"But they will force an entrance," suggested Mon. Detinan.
"You forget the law, my dear monsieur! Ganimard would never venture to violate the privacy of a French citizen. But, pardon me, time flies, and you are all slightly nervous."
He placed his watch on the table, opened the door of the room and addressing the blonde lady he said:
"Are you ready my dear?"
He drew back to let her pass, bowed respectfully to Mlle. Gerbois, and went out, closing the door behind him. Then they heard him in the vestibule, speaking, in a loud voice:
"Good-day, Ganimard, how goes it? Remember me to Madame Ganimard. One of these days, I shall invite her to breakfast. Au revoir, Ganimard."
The bell rang violently, followed by repeated rings, and voices on the landing.
"Forty-five minutes," muttered Mon. Gerbois.
After a few seconds, he left the room and stepped into the vestibule. Arsene Lupin and the blonde lady had gone.
"Papa!... you mustn't! Wait!" cried Suzanne.
"Wait! you are foolish!... No quarter for that rascal!... And the half-million!"
He opened the outer door. Ganimard rushed in.
"That woman--where is she? And Lupin!"
"He was here... he is here."
Ganimard uttered a cry of triumph.
"We have him. The house is surrounded."
"But the servant's stairway?" suggested Mon. Detinan.
"It leads to the court," said Ganimard.
"There is only one exit the street-door. Ten men are guarding it."
"But he didn't come in by the street-door, and he will not go out that way."
"What way, then?" asked Ganimard.
"Through the air?"
He drew aside a curtain and exposed a long corridor leading to the kitchen. Ganimard ran along it and tried the door of the servants stairway. It was locked. From the window he called to one of his assistants:
"Then they are still in the house!" he exclaimed. "They are hiding in one of the rooms! They cannot have escaped. Ah! Lupin, you fooled me before, but, this time, I get my revenge."
* * *
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