The Teeth of the Tiger - Maurice Leblanc - ebook

The Teeth of the Tiger ebook

Leblanc Maurice

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Opis

The Teeth of the Tiger” was written in the year 1914 by Maurice Leblanc (translated by Alexander Teixeira de Mattos). Leblanc was a French novelist and short story writer known for creating the character Arsene Lupin, who is the French counterpart to the English Sherlock Holmes. This is one of three novels about Lupin written in World War 1. Complicated murder mystery in which Arsene Lupin, in his guise as a Spanish nobleman, gets embroiled in an inheritance mystery involving a beautiful woman. Lupin is s sincere hero who has failings, which ender him to the reader. This romance and adventure/thriller is by far the best of the Lupin series and is one of the most popular novels of Maurice Leblanc, and has been translated into several other languages around the world.

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Liczba stron: 629

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Contents

CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER TWO

CHAPTER THREE

CHAPTER FOUR

CHAPTER FIVE

CHAPTER SIX

CHAPTER SEVEN

CHAPTER EIGHT

CHAPTER NINE

CHAPTER TEN

CHAPTER ELEVEN

CHAPTER TWELVE

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

CHAPTER NINETEEN

CHAPTER TWENTY

CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE

CHAPTER ONE

D’ARTAGNAN, PORTHOS ... AND MONTE CRISTO

It was half-past four; M. Desmalions, the Prefect of Police, was not yet back at the office. His private secretary laid on the desk a bundle of letters and reports which he had annotated for his chief, rang the bell and said to the messenger who entered by the main door:

“Monsieur le Préfet has sent for a number of people to see him at five o’clock. Here are their names. Show them into separate waiting-rooms, so that they can’t communicate with one another, and let me have their cards when they come.”

The messenger went out. The secretary was turning toward the small door that led to his room, when the main door opened once more and admitted a man who stopped and leaned swaying over the back of a chair.

“Why, it’s you, Vérot!” said the secretary. “But what’s happened? What’s the matter?”

Inspector Vérot was a very stout, powerfully built man, with a big neck and shoulders and a florid complexion. He had obviously been upset by some violent excitement, for his face, streaked with red veins and usually so apoplectic, seemed almost pale.

“Oh, nothing. Monsieur le Secrétaire!” he said.

“Yes, yes; you’re not looking your usual self. You’re gray in the face... And the way you’re perspiring...”

Inspector Vérot wiped his forehead and, pulling himself together, said:

“It’s just a little tiredness... I’ve been overworking myself lately: I was very keen on clearing up a case which Monsieur Desmalions had put in my hands. All the same, I have a funny sort of feeling–”

“Will you have a pick-me-up?”

“No, no; I’m more thirsty.”

“A glass of water?”

“No, thank you.”

“What then?”

“I should like–I should like–”

His voice faltered. He wore a troubled look, as if he had suddenly lost his power of getting out another word. But he recovered himself with an effort and asked:

“Isn’t Monsieur Desmalions here?”

“No; he won’t be back till five, when he has an important meeting.”

“Yes ... I know ... most important. That’s what I’m here for. But I should have liked to see him first. I should so much have liked to see him!”

The secretary stared at Vérot and said:

“What a state you’re in! Is your message so urgent as all that?”

“It’s very urgent, indeed. It has to do with a crime that took place a month ago, to the day. And, above all, it’s a matter of preventing two murders which are the outcome of that other crime and which are to be committed to-night. Yes, to-night, inevitably, unless we take the necessary steps.”

“Sit down, Vérot, won’t you?”

“You see, the whole thing has been planned in such an infernal manner! You would never have imagined–”

“Still, Vérot, as you know about it beforehand, and as Monsieur le Préfet is sure to give you full powers–”

“Yes, of course, of course. But, all the same, it’s terrible to think that I might miss him. So I wrote him this letter, telling him all I know about the business. I thought it safer.”

He handed the secretary a large yellow envelope and added:

“And here’s a little box as well; I’ll leave it on this table. It contains something that will serve to complete and explain the contents of the letter.”

“But why don’t you keep all that by you?”

“I’m afraid to. They’re watching me. They’re trying to get rid of me. I shan’t be easy in my mind until some one besides myself knows the secret.”

“Have no fear, Vérot. Monsieur le Préfet is bound to be back soon. Meanwhile, I advise you to go to the infirmary and ask for a pick-me-up.”

The inspector seemed undecided what to do. Once more he wiped away the perspiration that was trickling down his forehead. Then, drawing himself up, he left the office. When he was gone the secretary slipped the letter into a big bundle of papers that lay on the Prefect’s desk and went out by the door leading to his own room.

He had hardly closed it behind him when the other door opened once again and the inspector returned, spluttering:

“Monsieur le Secrétaire ... it’d be better if I showed you–”

The unfortunate man was as white as a sheet. His teeth were chattering. When he saw that the secretary was gone, he tried to walk across to his private room. But he was seized with an attack of weakness and sank into a chair, where he remained for some minutes, moaning helplessly:

“What’s the matter with me?... Have I been poisoned, too?... Oh, I don’t like this; I don’t like the look of this!”

The desk stood within reach of his hand. He took a pencil, drew a writing-pad toward him and began to scribble a few characters. But he next stammered:

“Why, no, it’s not worth while. The Prefect will be reading my letter... What on earth’s the matter with me. I don’t like this at all!”

Suddenly he rose to his feet and called out:

“Monsieur le Secrétaire, we’ve got ... we’ve got to ... It’s for to-night. Nothing can prevent–”

Stiffening himself with an effort of his whole will, he made for the door of the secretary’s room with little short steps, like an automaton. But he reeled on the way–and had to sit down a second time.

A mad terror shook him from head to foot; and he uttered cries which were too faint, unfortunately, to be heard. He realized this and looked round for a bell, for a gong; but he was no longer able to distinguish anything. A veil of darkness seemed to weigh upon his eyes.

Then he dropped on his knees and crawled to the wall, beating the air with one hand, like a blind man, until he ended by touching some woodwork. It was the partition-wall.

He crept along this; but, as ill-luck would have it, his bewildered brain showed him a false picture of the room, so that, instead of turning to the left as he should have done, he followed the wall to the right, behind a screen which concealed a third door.

His fingers touched the handle of this door and he managed to open it. He gasped, “Help! Help!” and fell at his full length in a sort of cupboard or closet which the Prefect of Police used as a dressing-room.

“To-night!” he moaned, believing that he was making himself heard and that he was in the secretary’s room. “To-night! The job is fixed for to-night! You’ll see ... The mark of the teeth!... It’s awful!... Oh, the pain I’m in!... It’s the poison! Save me! Help!”

The voice died away. He repeated several times, as though in a nightmare:

“The teeth! the teeth! They’re closing!”

Then his voice grew fainter still; and inarticulate sounds issued from his pallid lips. His mouth munched the air like the mouth of one of those old men who seem to be interminably chewing the cud. His head sank lower and lower on his breast. He heaved two or three sighs; a great shiver passed through his body; and he moved no more.

And the death-rattle began in his throat, very softly and rhythmically, broken only by interruptions in which a last instinctive effort appeared to revive the flickering life of the intelligence, and to rouse fitful gleams of consciousness in the dimmed eyes.

The Prefect of Police entered his office at ten minutes to five. M. Desmalions, who had filled his post for the past three years with an authority that made him generally respected, was a heavily built man of fifty with a shrewd and intelligent face. His dress, consisting of a gray jacket-suit, white spats, and a loosely flowing tie, in no way suggested the public official. His manners were easy, simple, and full of good-natured frankness.

He touched a bell, and when his secretary entered, asked:

“Are the people whom I sent for here?”

“Yes, Monsieur le Préfet, and I gave orders that they were to wait in different rooms.”

“Oh, it would not have mattered if they had met! However, perhaps it’s better as it is. I hope that the American Ambassador did not trouble to come in person?”

“No, Monsieur le Préfet.”

“Have you their cards?”

“Yes.”

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