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never yet been known to fail...."

And he ran after Shears to catch him up.

+ - - - - - - - -+
|HOLMLOCK SHEARS|
| |
| VERSUS |
| |
| ARSÈNE LUPIN |
+ - - - - - - - -+

These words, standing out in great black letters, struck their eyes at
the first steps they took. They walked up to them: a procession of
sandwich-men was moving along in single file. In their hands they
carried heavy ferruled canes, with which they tapped the pavement in
unison as they went; and their boards bore the above legend in front
and a further huge poster at the back which read:

+ - - - - - - - - - - - - +
|THE SHEARS-LUPIN CONTEST|
| |
| ARRIVAL OF |
| |
| THE ENGLISH CHAMPION |
| |
| THE GREAT DETECTIVE |
| |
| GRAPPLES WITH |
| |
| THE RUE MURILLO MYSTERY|
| |
| FULL DETAILS |
| |
| ÉCHO DE FRANCE |
+ - - - - - - - - - - - - +

Wilson tossed his head:

"I say, Holmlock, I thought we were travelling incognito! I shouldn't be
astonished to find the Republican Guard waiting for us in the Rue
Murillo, with an official reception and champagne!"

"When you try to be witty, Wilson," snarled Shears, "you're witty enough
for two!"

He strode up to one of the men with apparent intention of taking him in
his powerful hands and tearing him and his advertisement to shreds.
Meanwhile, a crowd gathered round the posters, laughing and joking.

Suppressing a furious fit of passion, Shears said to the man:

"When were you hired?"

"This morning."

"When did you start on your round?"

"An hour ago."

"But the posters were ready?"

"Lord, yes! They were there when we came to the office this morning."

So Arsène Lupin had foreseen that Shears would accept the battle! Nay,
more, the letter written by Lupin proved that he himself wished for the
battle and that it formed part of his intentions to measure swords once
more with his rival. Why? What possible motive could urge him to
re-commence the contest?

Holmlock Shears showed a momentary hesitation. Lupin must really feel
very sure of victory to display such insolence; and was it not falling
into a trap to hasten like that in answer to the first call? Then,
summoning up all his energy:

"Come along, Wilson! Driver, 18, Rue Murillo!" he shouted.

And, with swollen veins and fists clenched as though for a boxing-match,
he leapt into a cab.

* * * * *

The Rue Murillo is lined with luxurious private residences, the backs of
which look out upon the Parc Monceau. No. 18 is one of the handsomest
of these houses; and Baron d'Imblevalle, who occupies it with his wife
and children, has furnished it in the most sumptuous style, as befits an
artist and millionaire. There is a courtyard in front of the house,
skirted on either side by the servants' offices. At the back, a garden
mingles the branches of its trees with the trees of the park.

The two Englishmen rang the bell, crossed the courtyard and were
admitted by a footman, who showed them into a small drawing-room at the
other side of the house.

They sat down and took a rapid survey of the many valuable objects with
which the room was filled.

"Very pretty things," whispered Wilson. "Taste and fancy.... One can
safely draw the deduction that people who have had the leisure to hunt
out these articles are persons of a certain age ... fifty, perhaps...."

He did not have time to finish. The door opened and M. d'Imblevalle
entered, followed by his wife.

Contrary to Wilson's deductions, they were both young, fashionably
dressed and very lively in speech and manner. Both were profuse in
thanks:

"It is really too good of you! To put yourself out like this! We are
almost glad of this trouble since it procures us the pleasure...."

"How charming those French people are!" thought Wilson, who never
shirked the opportunity of making an original observation.

"But time is money," cried the baron. "And yours especially, Mr. Shears.
Let us come to the point! What do you think of the case? Do you hope to
bring it to a satisfactory result?"

"To bring the case to a satisfactory result, I must first know what the
case is."

"Don't you know?"

"No; and I will ask you to explain the matter fully, omitting nothing.
What is it a case of?"

"It is a case of theft."

"On what day did it take place?"

"On Saturday," replied the baron. "On Saturday night or Sunday morning."

"Six days ago, therefore. Now, pray, go on."

"I must first tell you that my wife and I, though we lead the life
expected of people in our position, go out very little. The education of
our children, a few receptions, the beautifying of our home: these make
up our existence; and all or nearly all our evenings are spent here, in
this room, which is my wife's boudoir and in which we have collected a
few pretty things. Well, on Saturday last, at about eleven o'clock, I
switched off the electric light and my wife and I retired, as usual, to
our bedroom."

"Where is that?"

"The next room: that door over there. On the following morning, that is
to say, Sunday, I rose early. As Suzanne - my wife - was still asleep, I
came into this room as gently as possible, so as not to awake her.
Imagine my surprise at finding the window open, after we had left it
closed the evening before!"

"A servant...?"

"Nobody enters this room in the morning before we ring. Besides, I
always take the precaution of bolting that other door, which leads to
the hall. Therefore the window must have been opened from the outside. I
had a proof of it, besides: the second pane of the right-hand casement,
the one next to the latch, had been cut out."

"And the window?"

"The window, as you perceive, opens on a little balcony surrounded by a
stone balustrade. We are on the first floor here and you can see the
garden at the back of the house and the railings that separate it from
the Parc Monceau. It is certain, therefore, that the man came from the
Parc Monceau, climbed the railings by means of a ladder and got up to
the balcony."

"It is certain, you say?"

"On either side of the railings, in the soft earth of the borders, we
found holes left by the two uprights of the ladder; and there were two
similar holes below the balcony. Lastly, the balustrade shows two slight
scratches, evidently caused by the contact of the ladder."

"Isn't the Parc Monceau closed at night?"

"Closed? No. But, in any case, there is a house building at No. 14. It
would have been easy to effect an entrance that way."

Holmlock Shears reflected for a few moments and resumed:

"Let us come to the theft. You say it was committed in the room where we
now are?"

"Yes. Just here, between this twelfth-century Virgin and that
chased-silver tabernacle, there was a little Jewish lamp. It has
disappeared."

"And is that all?"

"That is all."

"Oh!... And what do you call a Jewish lamp?"

"It is one of those lamps which they used to employ in the old days,
consisting of a stem and of a receiver to contain the oil. This receiver
had two or more burners, which held the wicks."

"When all is said, objects of no great value."

"Just so. But the one in question formed a hiding-place in which we had
made it a practice to keep a magnificent antique jewel, a chimera in
gold, set with rubies and emeralds and worth a great deal of money."

"What was your reason for this practice?"

"Upon my word, Mr. Shears, I should find it difficult to tell you!
Perhaps we just thought it amusing to have a hiding-place of this kind."

"Did nobody know of it?"

"Nobody."

"Except, of course, the thief," objected Shears. "But for that, he would
not have taken the trouble to steal the Jewish lamp."

"Obviously. But how could he know of it, seeing that it was by an
accident that we discovered the secret mechanism of the lamp?"

"The same accident may have revealed it to somebody else: a servant ...
a visitor to the house.... But let us continue: have you informed the
police?"

"Certainly. The examining-magistrate has made his inquiry. The
journalistic detectives attached to all the big newspapers have made
theirs. But, as I wrote to you, it does not seem as though the problem
had the least chance of ever being solved."

Shears rose, went to the window, inspected the casement, the balcony,
the balustrade, employed his lens to study the two scratches on the
stone and asked M. d'Imblevalle to take him down to the garden.

When they were outside, Shears simply sat down in a wicker chair and
contemplated the roof of the house with a dreamy eye. Then he suddenly
walked toward two little wooden cases with which, in order to preserve
the exact marks, they had covered the holes which the uprights of the
ladder had left in the ground, below the balcony. He removed the cases,
went down on his knees and, with rounded back and his nose six inches
from the ground, searched and took his measurements. He went through the
same performance along the railing, but more quickly.

That was all.

* * * * *

They both returned to the boudoir, where Madame d'Imblevalle was waiting
for them.

Shears was silent for a few minutes longer and then spoke these words:

"Ever since you began your story, monsieur le baron, I was struck by the
really too simple side of the offence. To apply a ladder, remove a pane
of glass, pick out an object and go away: no, things don't happen so
easily as that. It is all too clear, too plain."

"You mean to say...?"

"I mean to say that the theft of the Jewish lamp was committed under the
direction of Arsène Lupin."

"Arsène Lupin!" exclaimed the baron.

"But it was committed without Arsène Lupin's presence and without
anybody's entering the house.... Perhaps a servant slipped down to the
balcony from his garret, along a rain-spout which I saw from the
garden."

"But what evidence have you?"

"Arsène Lupin would not have left the boudoir empty-handed."

"Empty-handed! And what about the lamp?"

"Taking the lamp would not have prevented him from taking this
snuff-box, which, I see, is studded with diamonds, or this necklace of
old opals. It would require but two movements more. His only reason for
not making those movements was that he was not here to make them."

"Still, the marks of the ladder?"

"A farce! Mere stage-play to divert suspicions!"

"The scratches on the balustrade?"

"A sham! They were made with sandpaper. Look, here are a few bits of
paper which I picked up."

"The marks left by the uprights of the ladder?"

"Humbug! Examine the two rectangular holes below the balcony and the two
holes near the railings. The shape is similar, but, whereas they are
parallel here, they are not so over there. Measure the space that
separates each hole from its neighbour: it differs in the two cases.
Below the balcony, the distance is nine inches. Beside the railings, it
is eleven inches."

"What do you conclude from that?"

"I conclude, since their outline is identical, that the four holes were
made with one stump of wood, cut to the right shape."

"The best argument would be the stump of wood itself."

"Here it is," said Shears. "I picked it up in the garden, behind a
laurel-tub."

* * * * *

The baron gave in. It was only forty minutes since the Englishman had
entered by that door; and not a vestige remained of all that had been
believed so far on the evidence of the apparent facts themselves. The
reality, a different reality, came to light, founded upon something
much more solid: the reasoning faculties of a Holmlock Shears.

"It is a very serious accusation to bring against our people, Mr.
Shears," said the baroness. "They are old family servants and not one of
them is capable of deceiving us."

"If one of them did not deceive you, how do you explain that this letter
was able to reach me on the same day and by the same post as the one you
sent me?"

And he handed her the letter which Arsène Lupin had written to him.

Madame d'Imblevalle was dumbfounded:

"Arsène Lupin!... How did he know?"

"Did you tell no one of your letter?"

"No one," said the baron. "The idea occurred to us the other evening, at
dinner."

"Before the servants?"

"There were only our two children. And even then ... no, Sophie and
Henrietta were not at table, were they Suzanne?"

Madame d'Imblevalle reflected and declared:

"No, they had gone up to mademoiselle."

"Mademoiselle?" asked Shears.

"The governess, Alice Demun."

"Doesn't she have her meals with you?"

"No, she has them by herself, in her room."

Wilson had an idea:

"The letter written to my friend Holmlock Shears was posted?"

"Naturally."

"Who posted it?"

"Dominique, who has been with me as my own man for twenty years,"
replied the baron. "Any search in that direction would be waste of
time."

"Time employed in searching is never wasted," stated Wilson,
sententiously.

This closed the first inquiries and Shears asked leave to withdraw.

An hour later, at dinner, he saw Sophie and Henrietta, the
d'Imblevalles' children, two pretty little girls of eight and six
respectively. The conversation languished. Shears replied to the
pleasant remarks of the baron and his wife in so surly a tone that they
thought it better to keep silence. Coffee was served. Shears swallowed
the contents of his cup and rose from his chair.

At that moment, a servant entered with a telephone message for him.
Shears opened it and read:

"Accept my enthusiastic admiration. Results obtained by you in
so short a time make my head reel. I feel quite giddy.

"ARSÈNE LUPIN."

He could not suppress a gesture of annoyance and, showing the telegram
to the baron:

"Do you begin to believe," he said, "that your walls have eyes and
ears?"

"I can't understand it," murmured M. d'Imblevalle, astounded.

"Nor I. But what I do understand is that not a movement takes place here
unperceived by him. Not a word is spoken but he hears it."

* * * * *

That evening, Wilson went to bed with the easy conscience of a man who
has done his duty and who has no other business before him than to go to
sleep. So he went to sleep very quickly and was visited by beautiful
dreams, in which he was hunting down Lupin all by himself and just on
the point of arresting him with his own hand; and the feeling of the
pursuit was so lifelike that he woke up.

Some one was touching his bed. He seized his revolver:

"Another movement, Lupin, and I shoot!"

"Steady, old chap, steady on!"

"Hullo, is that you, Shears? Do you want me?"

"I want your eyes. Get up...."

He led him to the window:

"Look over there ... beyond the railings...."

"In the park?"

"Yes. Do you see anything?"

"No, nothing."

"Try again; I am sure you see something."

"Oh, so I do: a shadow ... no, two!"

"I thought so: against the railings.... See, they're moving.... Let's
lose no time."

Groping and holding on to the banister, they made their way down the
stairs and came to a room that opened on to the garden steps. Through
the glass doors, they could see the two figures still in the same place.

"It's curious," said Shears. "I seem to hear noises in the house."

"In the house? Impossible! Everbody's asleep."

"Listen, though...."

At that moment, a faint whistle sounded from the railings and they
perceived an undecided light that seemed to come from the house.

"The d'Imblevalles must have switched on their light," muttered Shears.
"It's their room above us."

"Then it's they we heard, no doubt," said Wilson. "Perhaps they are
watching the railings."

A second whistle, still fainter than the first.

"I can't understand, I can't understand," said Shears, in a tone of
vexation.

"No more can I," confessed Wilson.

Shears turned the key of the door, unbolted it and softly pushed it
open.

A third whistle, this time a little deeper and in a different note. And,
above their heads, the noise grew louder, more hurried.

"It sounds rather as if it were on the balcony of the boudoir,"
whispered Shears.

He put his head between the glass doors, but at once drew back with a
stifled oath. Wilson looked out in his turn. Close to them, a ladder
rose against the wall, leaning against the balustrade of the balcony.

"By Jove!" said Shears. "There's some one in the boudoir. That's what we
heard. Quick, let's take away the ladder!"

But, at that moment, a form slid from the top to the bottom, the ladder
was removed and the man who carried it ran swiftly toward the railings,
to the place where his accomplices were waiting. Shears and Wilson had
darted out. They came up with the man as he was placing the ladder
against the railings. Two shots rang out from the other side.

"Wounded?" cried Shears.

"No," replied Wilson.

He caught the man around the body and tried to throw him. But the man
turned, seized him with one hand and, with the other, plunged a knife
full into his chest. Wilson gave a sigh, staggered and fell.

"Damnation!" roared Shears. "If they've done for him, I'll do for them!"

He laid Wilson on the lawn and rushed at the ladder. Too late: the man
had run up it and, in company with his accomplices, was fleeing through
the shrubs.

"Wilson, Wilson, it's not serious, is it? Say it's only a scratch!"

The doors of the house opened suddenly. M. d'Imblevalle was the first to
appear, followed by the men-servants carrying candles.

"What is it?" cried the baron. "Is Mr. Wilson hurt?"

"Nothing; only a scratch," repeated Shears, endeavouring to delude
himself into the belief.

Wilson was bleeding copiously and his face was deathly pale. Twenty
minutes later, the doctor declared that the point of the knife had
penetrated to within a quarter of an inch of the heart.

"A quarter of an inch! That Wilson was always a lucky dog!" said Shears,
summing up the situation, in an envious tone.

"Lucky ... lucky...." grunted the doctor.

"Why, with his strong constitution, he'll be all right...."

"After six weeks in bed and two months' convalescence."

"No longer?"

"No, unless complications ensue."

"Why on earth should there be any complications?"

Fully reassured, Shears returned to M. d'Imblevalle in the boudoir. This
time, the mysterious visitor had not shown the same discretion. He had
laid hands without shame on the diamond-studded snuff-box, on the opal
necklace and, generally, on anything that could find room in the pockets
of a self-respecting burglar.

The window was still open, one of the panes had been neatly cut out and
a summary inquiry held at daybreak showed that the ladder came from the
unfinished house and that the burglars must have come that way.

"In short," said M. d'Imblevalle, with a touch of irony in his voice,
"it is an exact repetition of the theft of the Jewish lamp."

"Yes, if we accept the first version favoured by the police."

"Do you still refuse to adopt it? Doesn't this second theft shake your
opinion as regards the first?"

"On the contrary, it confirms it."

"It seems incredible! You have the undoubted proof that last night's
burglary was committed by somebody from the outside and you still
maintain that the Jewish lamp was stolen by one of our people?"

"By some one living in the house."

"Then how do you explain...?"

"I explain nothing, monsieur: I establish two facts, which resemble each
other only in appearance, I weigh them separately and I am trying to
find the link that connects them."

His conviction seemed so profound, his actions based upon such powerful
motives, that the baron gave way:

"Very well. Let us go and inform the commissary of the police."

"On no account!" exclaimed the Englishman, eagerly. "On no account
whatever! The police are people whom I apply to only when I want them."

"Still, the shots...?"

"Never mind the shots!"

"Your friend...."

"My friend is only wounded.... Make the doctor hold his tongue.... I
will take all the responsibility as regards the police."

* * * * *

Two days elapsed, devoid of all incident, during which Shears pursued
his task with a minute care and a conscientiousness that was exasperated
by the memory of that daring onslaught, perpetrated under his eyes,
despite his presence and without his being able to prevent its success.
He searched the house and garden indefatigably, talked to the servants
and paid long visits to the kitchen and stables. And, though he gathered
no clue that threw any light upon the subject, he did not lose courage.

"I shall find what I am looking for," he thought, "and I shall find it
here. It is not a question now, as in the case of the blonde lady, of
walking at hap-hazard and of reaching, by roads unknown to me, an
equally unknown goal. This time I am on the battlefield itself. The
enemy is no longer the invisible, elusive Lupin, but the flesh-and-blood
accomplice who moves within the four walls of this house. Give me the
least little particular, and I know where I stand."

This little particular, from which he was to derive such remarkable
consequences, with a skill so prodigious that the case of the Jewish
Lamp may be looked upon as one in which his detective genius bursts
forth most triumphantly, this little particular he was to obtain by
accident.

* * * * *

On the third day, entering the room above the boudoir, which was used as
a schoolroom for the children, he came upon Henriette, the smaller of
the two. She was looking for her scissors.

"You know," she said to Shears, "I make papers too, like the one you got
the other evening."

"The other evening?"

"Yes, after dinner. You got a paper with strips on it ... you know, a
telegram.... Well, I make them too."

She went out. To any one else, these words would have represented only
the insignificant observation of a child; and Shears himself listened
without paying much attention and continued his inspection. But,
suddenly, he started running after the child, whose last phrase had all
at once impressed him. He caught her at the top of the staircase and
said:

"So you stick strips on to paper also, do you?"

Henriette, very proudly, declared:

"Yes, I cut out the words and stick them on."

"And who taught you that pretty game?"

"Mademoiselle ... my governess.... I saw her do it. She takes words out
of newspapers and sticks them on...."

"And what does she do with them?"

"Makes telegrams and letters which she sends off."

Holmlock Shears returned to the schoolroom, singularly puzzled by this
confidence and doing his utmost to extract from it the inferences of
which it allowed.

There was a bundle of newspapers on the mantel-piece. He opened them and
saw, in fact, that there were groups of words or lines missing,
regularly and neatly cut out. But he had only to read the words that
came before or after to ascertain that the missing words had been
removed with the scissors at random, evidently by Henriette. It was
possible that, in the pile of papers, there was one which mademoiselle
had cut herself. But how was he to make sure?

Mechanically, Shears turned the pages of the lesson-books heaped up on
the table and of some others lying on the shelves of a cupboard. And
suddenly a cry of joy escaped him. In a corner of the cupboard, under a
pile of old exercise-books, he had found a children's album, a sort of
picture alphabet, and, in one of the pages of this album, he had seen a
gap.

He examined the page. It gave the names of the days of the week: Sunday,
Monday, Tuesday, and so on. The word "Saturday" was missing. Now the
Jewish Lamp was stolen on a Saturday night.

* * * * *

Shears felt that little clutch at his heart which always told him, in
the plainest manner possible, when he had hit upon the knotty point of a
mystery. That grip of truth, that feeling of certainty never deceived
him.

He hastened to turn over the pages of the album, feverishly and
confidently. A little further on came another surprise.

It was a page consisting of capital letters followed by a row of
figures.

Nine of the letters and three of the figures had been carefully removed.

Shears wrote them down in his note-book, in the order which they would


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