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space of thirty seconds; the next instant the crowd had scattered in
several directions, the men running and laughing as they went. Mme. la
Comtesse was left standing alone on the quay. Not a passer-by in
sight, and the only gendarme visible, a long way down the Quai, had
his back turned toward her. Nevertheless she ran and hied him, and
presently he turned and, realizing that something was amiss, he too
ran to meet her. He listened to her story, swore lustily, but shrugged
his shoulders in token that the tale did not surprise him and that but
little could be done. Nevertheless he at once summoned those of his
colleagues who were on duty in the neighbourhood, and one of them went
off immediately to notify the theft at the nearest commissariat of
police. After which they all proceeded to a comprehensive scouring of
the many tortuous sidestreets of the quartier; but, needless to say,
there was no sign of Carissimo or of his abductors.

That night my lovely client went home distracted.

The following evening, when, broken-hearted, she wandered down the
quays living over again the agonizing moments during which she lost
her pet, a workman in a blue blouse, with a peaked cap pulled well
over his eyes, lurched up against her and thrust into her hand the
missive which she had just shown me. He then disappeared into the
night, and she had only the vaguest possible recollection of his
appearance.

That, Sir, was the substance of the story which the lovely creature
told me in a voice oft choked with tears. I questioned her very
closely and in my most impressive professional manner as to the
identity of any one man among the crowd who might have attracted her
attention, but all that she could tell me was that she had a vague
impression of a wizened hunchback with evil face, shaggy red beard
and hair, and a black patch covering the left eye.



2.

Not much data to go on, you will, I think, admit, and I Can assure
you, Sir, that had I not possessed that unbounded belief in myself
which is the true hall-mark of genius, I would at the outset have felt
profoundly discouraged.

As it was, I found just the right words of consolation and of hope
wherewith to bow my brilliant client out of my humble apartments, and
then to settle down to deep and considered meditation. Nothing, Sir,
is so conducive to thought as a long, brisk walk through the crowded
streets of Paris. So I brushed my coat, put on my hat at a becoming
angle, and started on my way.

I walked as far as Suresnes, and I thought. After that, feeling
fatigued, I sat on the terrace of the Café Bourbon, overlooking the
river. There I sipped my coffee and thought. I walked back into Paris
in the evening, and still thought, and thought, and thought. After
that I had some dinner, washed down by an agreeable bottle of
wine - did I mention that the lovely creature had given me a hundred
francs on account? - then I went for a stroll along the Quai Voltaire,
and I may safely say that there is not a single side and tortuous
street in its vicinity that I did not explore from end to end during
the course of that never to be forgotten evening.

But still my mind remained in a chaotic condition. I had not succeeded
in forming any plan. What a quandary, Sir! Oh! what a quandary! Here
was I, Hector Ratichon, the confidant of kings, the right hand of two
emperors, set to the task of stealing a dog - for that is what I should
have to do - from an unscrupulous gang of thieves whose identity, abode
and methods were alike unknown to me. Truly, Sir, you will own that
this was a herculean task.

Vaguely my thoughts reverted to Theodore. He might have been of good
counsel, for he knew more about thieves than I did, but the ungrateful
wretch was out of the way on the one occasion when he might have been
of use to me who had done so much for him. Indeed, my reason told me
that I need not trouble my head about Theodore. He had vanished; that
he would come back presently was, of course, an indubitable fact;
people like Theodore never vanish completely. He would come back and
demand I know not what, his share, perhaps, in a business which was so
promising even if it was still so vague.

Five thousand francs! A round sum! If I gave Theodore five hundred
the sum would at once appear meagre, unimportant. Four thousand five
hundred francs! - it did not even _sound_ well to my mind.

So I took care that Theodore vanished from my mental vision as
completely as he had done for the last two days from my ken, and as
there was nothing more that could be done that evening, I turned my
weary footsteps toward my lodgings at Passy.

All that night, Sir, I lay wakeful and tossing in my bed, alternately
fuming and rejecting plans for the attainment of that golden goal - the
recovery of Mme. de Nolé's pet dog. And the whole of the next day I
spent in vain quest. I visited every haunt of ill-fame known to me
within the city. I walked about with a pistol in my belt, a hunk of
bread and cheese in my pocket, and slowly growing despair in my heart.

In the evening Mme. la Comtesse de Nolé called for news of Carissimo,
and I could give her none. She cried, Sir, and implored, and her tears
and entreaties got on to my nerves until I felt ready to fall into
hysterics. One more day and all my chances of a bright and wealthy
future would have vanished. Unless the money was forthcoming on the
morrow, the dog would be destroyed, and with him my every hope of that
five thousand francs. And though she still irradiated charm and luxury
from her entire lovely person, I begged her not to come to the office
again, and promised that as soon as I had any news to impart I would
at once present myself at her house in the Faubourg St. Germain.

That night I never slept one wink. Think of it, Sir! The next few
hours were destined to see me either a prosperous man for many days to
come, or a miserable, helpless, disappointed wretch. At eight o'clock
I was at my office. Still no news of Theodore. I could now no longer
dismiss him from my mind. Something had happened to him, I could have
no doubt. This anxiety, added to the other more serious one, drove me
to a state bordering on frenzy. I hardly knew what I was doing. I
wandered all day up and down the Quai Voltaire, and the Quai des
Grands Augustins, and in and around the tortuous streets till I was
dog-tired, distracted, half crazy.

I went to the Morgue, thinking to find there Theodore's dead body, and
found myself vaguely looking for the mutilated corpse of Carissimo.
Indeed, after a while Theodore and Carissimo became so inextricably
mixed up in my mind that I could not have told you if I was seeking
for the one or for the other and if Mme. la Comtesse de Nolé was now
waiting to clasp her pet dog or my man-of-all-work to her exquisite
bosom.

She in the meanwhile had received a second, yet more peremptory,
missive through the same channel as the previous one. A grimy deformed
man, with ginger-coloured hair, and wearing a black patch over one
eye, had been seen by one of the servants lolling down the street
where Madame lived, and subsequently the concierge discovered that an
exceedingly dirty scrap of paper had been thrust under the door of his
lodge. The writer of the epistle demanded that Mme. la Comtesse should
stand in person at six o'clock that same evening at the corner of the
Rue Guénégaud, behind the Institut de France. Two men, each wearing a
blue blouse and peaked cap, would meet her there. She must hand over
the money to one of them, whilst the other would have Carissimo in his
arms. The missive closed with the usual threats that if the police
were mixed up in the affair, or the money not forthcoming, Carissimo
would be destroyed.

Six o'clock was the hour fixed by these abominable thieves for the
final doom of Carissimo. It was now close on five. In a little more
than an hour my last hope of five or ten thousand francs and a smile
of gratitude from a pair of lovely lips would have gone, never again
to return. A great access of righteous rage seized upon me. I
determined that those miserable thieves, whoever they were, should
suffer for the disappointment which I was now enduring. If I was to
lose five thousand francs, they at least should not be left free to
pursue their evil ways. I would communicate with the police; the
police should meet the miscreants at the corner of the Rue Guénégaud.
Carissimo would die; his lovely mistress would be brokenhearted. I
would be left to mourn yet another illusion of a possible fortune, but
they would suffer in gaol or in New Caledonia the consequences of all
their misdeeds.

Fortified by this resolution, I turned my weary footsteps in the
direction of the gendarmerie where I intended to lodge my denunciation
of those abominable thieves and blackmailers. The night was dark, the
streets ill-lighted, the air bitterly cold. A thin drizzle, half rain,
half snow, was descending, chilling me to the bone.

I was walking rapidly along the river bank with my coat collar pulled
up to my ears, and still instinctively peering up every narrow street
which debouches on the quay. Then suddenly I spied Theodore. He was
coming down the Rue Beaune, slouching along with head bent in his
usual way. He appeared to be carrying something, not exactly heavy,
but cumbersome, under his left arm. Within the next few minutes he
would have been face to face with me, for I had come to a halt at the
angle of the street, determined to have it out with the rascal then
and there in spite of the cold and in spite of my anxiety about
Carissimo.

All of a sudden he raised his head and saw me, and in a second he
turned on his heel and began to run up the street in the direction
whence he had come. At once I gave chase. I ran after him - and then,
Sir, he came for a second within the circle of light projected by a
street lanthorn. But in that one second I had seen that which turned
my frozen blood into liquid lava - a tail, Sir! - a dog's tail, fluffy
and curly, projecting from beneath that recreant's left arm.

A dog, Sir! a dog! Carissimo! the darling of Mme. la Comtesse de
Nolé's heart! Carissimo, the recovery of whom would mean five thousand
francs into my pocket! Carissimo! I knew it! For me there existed but
one dog in all the world; one dog and one spawn of the devil, one
arch-traitor, one limb of Satan! Theodore!

How he had come by Carissimo I had not time to con-conjecture. I
called to him. I called his accursed name, using appellations which
fell far short of those which he deserved. But the louder I called the
faster he ran, and I, breathless, panting, ran after him, determined
to run him to earth, fearful lest I should lose him in the darkness of
the night. All down the Rue Beaune we ran, and already I could hear
behind me the heavy and more leisured tramp of a couple of gendarmes
who in their turn had started to give chase.

I tell you, Sir, the sound lent wings to my feet. A chance - a last
chance - was being offered me by a benevolent Fate to earn that five
thousand francs, the keystone to my future fortune. If I had the
strength to seize and hold Theodore until the gendarmes came up, and
before he had time to do away with the dog, the five thousand francs
could still be mine.

So I ran, Sir, as I had never run before; the beads of perspiration
poured down from my forehead; the breath came stertorous and hot from
my heaving breast.

Then suddenly Theodore disappeared!

Disappeared, Sir, as if the earth had swallowed him up! A second ago I
had seen him dimly, yet distinctly through the veil of snow and rain
ahead of me, running with that unmistakable shuffling gait of his,
hugging the dog closely under his arm. I had seen him - another effort
and I might have touched him! - now the long and deserted street lay
dark and mysterious before me, and behind me I could hear the measured
tramp of the gendarmes and their peremptory call of "Halt, in the name
of the King!"

But not in vain, Sir, am I called Hector Ratichon; not in vain have
kings and emperors reposed confidence in my valour and my presence of
mind. In less time than it takes to relate I had already marked with
my eye the very spot - down the street - where I had last seen Theodore.
I hurried forward and saw at once that my surmise had been correct. At
that very spot, Sir, there was a low doorway which gave on a dark and
dank passage. The door itself was open. I did not hesitate. My life
stood in the balance but I did not falter. I might be affronting
within the next second or two a gang of desperate thieves, but I did
not quake.

I turned into that doorway, Sir; the next moment I felt a stunning
blow between my eyes. I just remember calling out with all the
strength of my lungs: "Police! Gendarmes! A moi!" Then nothing more.



3.

I woke with the consciousness of violent wordy warfare carried on
around me. I was lying on the ground, and the first things I saw were
three or four pairs of feet standing close together. Gradually out of
the confused hubbub a few sentences struck my reawakened senses.

"The man is drunk."

"I won't have him inside the house."

"I tell you this is a respectable house." This from a shrill feminine
voice. "We've never had the law inside our doors before."

By this time I had succeeded in raising myself on my elbow, and, by
the dim light of a hanging lamp somewhere down the passage, I was
pretty well able to take stock of my surroundings.

The half-dozen bedroom candlesticks on a table up against the wall,
the row of keys hanging on hooks fixed to a board above, the glass
partition with the words "Concierge" and "Réception" painted across
it, all told me that this was one of those small, mostly squalid and
disreputable lodging houses or hotels in which this quarter of Paris
still abounds.

The two gendarmes who had been running after me were arguing the
matter of my presence here with the proprietor of the place and with
the concierge.

I struggled to my feet. Whereupon for the space of a solid two minutes
I had to bear as calmly as I could the abuse and vituperation which
the feminine proprietor of this "respectable house" chose to hurl at
my unfortunate head. After which I obtained a hearing from the
bewildered minions of the law. To them I gave as brief and succinct a
narrative as I could of the events of the past three days. The theft
of Carissimo - the disappearance of Theodore - my meeting him a while
ago, with the dog under his arm - his second disappearance, this time
within the doorway of this "respectable abode," and finally the blow
which alone had prevented me from running the abominable thief to
earth.

The gendarmes at first were incredulous. I could see that they were
still under the belief that my excitement was due to over-indulgence
in alcoholic liquor, whilst Madame the proprietress called me an
abominable liar for daring to suggest that she harboured thieves
within her doors. Then suddenly, as if in vindication of my character,
there came from a floor above the sound of a loud, shrill bark.

"Carissimo!" I cried triumphantly. Then I added in a rapid whisper,
"Mme. la Comtesse de Nolé is rich. She spoke of a big reward for the
recovery of her pet."

These happy words had the effect of stimulating the zeal of the
gendarmes. Madame the proprietress grew somewhat confused and
incoherent, and finally blurted it out that one of her lodgers - a
highly respectable gentleman - did keep a dog, but that there was no
crime in that surely.

"One of your lodgers?" queried the representative of the law. "When
did he come?"

"About three days ago," she replied sullenly.

"What room does he occupy?"

"Number twenty-five on the third floor."

"He came with his dog?" I interposed quickly, "a spaniel?"

"Yes."

"And your lodger, is he an ugly, slouchy creature - with hooked nose,
bleary eyes and shaggy yellow hair?"

But to this she vouchsafed no reply.

Already the matter had passed out of my hands. One of the gendarmes
prepared to go upstairs and bade me follow him, whilst he ordered his
comrade to remain below and on no account to allow anyone to enter or
leave the house. The proprietress and concierge were warned that if
they interfered with the due execution of the law they would be
severely dealt with; after which we went upstairs.

For a while, as we ascended, we could hear the dog barking furiously,
then, presently, just as we reached the upper landing, we heard a loud
curse, a scramble, and then a piteous whine quickly smothered.

My very heart stood still. The next moment, however, the gendarme had
kicked open the door of No. 25, and I followed him into the room. The
place looked dirty and squalid in the extreme - just the sort of place
I should have expected Theodore to haunt. It was almost bare save for
a table in the centre, a couple of rickety chairs, a broken-down
bedstead and an iron stove in the corner. On the table a tallow candle
was spluttering and throwing a very feeble circle of light around.

At first glance I thought that the room was empty, then suddenly I
heard another violent expletive and became aware of a man sitting
close beside the iron stove. He turned to stare at us as we entered,
but to my surprise it was not Theodore's ugly face which confronted
us. The man sitting there alone in the room where I had expected to
see Theodore and Carissimo had a shaggy beard of an undoubted ginger
hue. He had on a blue blouse and a peaked cap; beneath his cap his
lank hair protruded more decided in colour even than his beard. His
head was sunk between his shoulders, and right across his face, from
the left eyebrow over the cheek and as far as his ear, he had a
hideous crimson scar, which told up vividly against the ghastly pallor
of his face.

But there was no sign of Theodore!

At first my friend the gendarme was quite urbane. He asked very
politely to see Monsieur's pet dog. Monsieur denied all knowledge of a
dog, which denial only tended to establish his own guilt and the
veracity of mine own narrative. The gendarme thereupon became more
peremptory and the man promptly lost his temper.

I, in the meanwhile, was glancing round the room and soon spied a wall
cupboard which had obviously been deliberately screened by the
bedstead. While my companion was bringing the whole majesty of the law
to bear upon the miscreant's denegations I calmly dragged the bedstead
aside and opened the cupboard door.

An ejaculation from my quivering throat brought the gendarme to my
side. Crouching in the dark recess of the wall cupboard was
Carissimo - not dead, thank goodness! but literally shaking with
terror. I pulled him out as gently as I could, for he was so
frightened that he growled and snapped viciously at me. I handed him
to the gendarme, for by the side of Carissimo I had seen something
which literally froze my blood within my veins. It was Theodore's hat
and coat, which he had been wearing when I chased him to this house of
mystery and of ill-fame, and wrapped together with it was a rag all
smeared with blood, whilst the same hideous stains were now distinctly
visible on the door of the cupboard itself.

I turned to the gendarme, who at once confronted the abominable
malefactor with the obvious proofs of a horrible crime. But the
depraved wretch stood by, Sir, perfectly calm and with a cynicism in
his whole bearing which I had never before seen equalled!

"I know nothing about that coat," he asserted with a shrug of the
shoulders, "nor about the dog."

The gendarme by this time was purple with fury.

"Not know anything about the dog?" he exclaimed in a voice choked with
righteous indignation. "Why, he . . . he barked!"

But this indisputable fact in no way disconcerted the miscreant.

"I heard a dog yapping," he said with consummate impudence, "but I
thought he was in the next room. No wonder," he added coolly, "since
he was in a wall cupboard."

"A wall cupboard," the gendarme rejoined triumphantly, "situated in
the very room which you occupy at this moment."

"That is a mistake, my friend," the cynical wretch retorted,
undaunted. "I do not occupy this room. I do not lodge in this hotel at
all."

"Then how came you to be here?"

"I came on a visit to a friend who happened to be out when I arrived.
I found a pleasant fire here, and I sat down to warm myself. Your
noisy and unwarranted irruption into this room has so bewildered me
that I no longer know whether I am standing on my head or on my
heels."

"We'll show you soon enough what you are standing on, my fine fellow,"
the gendarme riposted with breezy, cheerfulness. "Allons!"

I must say that the pampered minion of the law arose splendidly to the
occasion. He seized the miscreant by the arm and took him downstairs,
there to confront him with the proprietress of the establishment,
while I - with marvellous presence of mind - took possession of
Carissimo and hid him as best I could beneath my coat.

In the hall below a surprise and a disappointment were in store for
me. I had reached the bottom of the stairs when the shrill feminine
accents of Mme. the proprietress struck unpleasantly on my ear.

"No! no! I tell you!" she was saying. "This man is not my lodger. He
never came here with a dog. There," she added volubly, and pointing an
unwashed finger at Carissimo who was struggling and growling in my
arms, "there is the dog. A gentleman brought him with him last
Wednesday, when he inquired if he could have a room here for a few
nights. Number twenty-five happened to be vacant, and I have no
objection to dogs. I let the gentleman have the room, and he paid me
twenty sous in advance when he took possession and told me he would
keep the room three nights."

"The gentleman? What gentleman?" the gendarme queried, rather inanely
I thought.

"My lodger," the woman replied. "He is out for the moment, but he
will be back presently I make no doubt. The dog is his. . . ."

"What is he like?" the minion of the law queried abruptly.

"Who? the dog?" she retorted impudently.

"No, no! Your lodger."

Once more the unwashed finger went up and pointed straight at me.

"He described him well enough just now; thin and slouchy in his ways.
He has lank, yellow hair, a nose perpetually crimson - with the cold no
doubt - and pale, watery eyes. . . ."

"Theodore," I exclaimed mentally.

Bewildered, the gendarme pointed to his prisoner.

"But this man . . . ?" he queried.

"Why," the proprietress replied. "I have seen Monsieur twice, or was
it three times? He would visit number twenty-five now and then."

I will not weary you with further accounts of the close examination to
which the representative of the law subjected the personnel of the
squalid hotel. The concierge and the man of all work did indeed
confirm what the proprietress said, and whilst my friend the gendarme
- puzzled and floundering - was scratching his head in complete
bewilderment, I thought that the opportunity had come for me to slip
quietly out by the still open door and make my way as fast as I could
to the sumptuous abode in the Faubourg St. Germain, where the
gratitude of Mme. de Nolé, together with five thousand francs, were
even now awaiting me.

After Madame the proprietress had identified Carissimo, I had once
more carefully concealed him under my coat. I was ready to seize my
opportunity, after which I would be free to deal with the matter of
Theodore's amazing disappearance. Unfortunately just at this moment
the little brute gave a yap, and the minion of the law at once
interposed and took possession of him.

"The dog belongs to the police now, Sir," he said sternly.

The fatuous jobbernowl wanted his share of the reward, you see.



4.

Having been forced thus to give up Carissimo, and with him all my
hopes of a really substantial fortune, I was determined to make the
red-polled miscreant suffer for my disappointment, and the minions of
the law sweat in the exercise of their duty.

I demanded Theodore! My friend, my comrade, my right hand! I had seen
him not ten minutes ago, carrying in his arms this very dog, whom I
had subsequently found inside a wall cupboard beside a blood-stained
coat. Where was Theodore? Pointing an avenging finger at the
red-headed reprobate, I boldly accused him of having murdered my
friend with a view to robbing him of the reward offered for the
recovery of the dog.

This brought a new train of thought into the wooden pates of the
gendarmes. A quartet of them had by this time assembled within the
respectable precincts of the Hôtel des Cadets. One of them - senior to
the others - at once dispatched a younger comrade to the nearest


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