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have occupied, and obtained the following result:

C D E H N O P R Z - 237

"By Jove!" he muttered. "There's not much to be made out of that, at
first sight."

Was it possible to rearrange these letters and, employing them all, to
form one, two or three complete words?

Shears attempted to do so in vain.

One solution alone suggested itself, returned continually to the point
of his pencil and, in the end, appeared to him the right one, because it
agreed with the logic of the facts and also corresponded with the
general circumstances.

Admitting that the page in the album contained each of the letters of
the alphabet once and once only, it was probable, it was certain that he
had to do with incomplete words and that these words had been completed
with letters taken from other pages. Given these conditions, and
allowing for the possibility of a mistake, the puzzle stood thus:

R E P O N D . Z - C H - 237

The first word was clear: "_Rêpondez_, reply." An E was missing, because
the letter E, having been once used, was no longer available.

As for the last, unfinished word, it undoubtedly formed, with the number
237, the address which the sender gave to the receiver of the letter. He
was advised to fix the day for Saturday and asked to send a reply to C H
237.

Either C H 237 was the official number of a _poste restante_ or else the
two letters C H formed part of an incomplete word. Shears turned over
the leaves of the album: nothing had been cut from any of the following
pages. He must, therefore, until further orders, be content with the
explanation hit upon.

* * * * *

"Isn't it fun?"

Henriette had returned.

He replied:

"Yes, great fun! Only, haven't you any other papers?... Or else some
words ready cut out, for me to stick on?"

"Papers?... No.... And then mademoiselle wouldn't like it."

"Mademoiselle?"

"Yes, mademoiselle has scolded me already."

"Why?"

"Because I told you things ... and she says you must never tell things
about people you are fond of."

"You were quite right to tell me."

Henriette seemed delighted with his approval, so much so that, from a
tiny canvas bag pinned on to her frock, she took a few strips of stuff,
three buttons, two lumps of sugar and, lastly, a square piece of paper
which she held out to Shears:

"There, I'll give it you all the same." It was the number of a cab, No.
8279.

"Where did you get this from?"

"It fell out of her purse."

"When?"

"On Sunday, at mass, when she was taking out some coppers for the
collection."

"Capital! And now I will tell you how not to get scolded. Don't tell
mademoiselle that you have seen me."

* * * * *

Shears went off in search of M. d'Imblevalle and asked him straight out
about mademoiselle.

The baron gave a start:

"Alice Demun!... Would you think?... Oh, impossible!"

"How long has she been in your service?"

"Only twelve months, but I know no quieter person nor any in whom I
place more confidence."

"How is it that I have not yet seen her?"

"She was away for two days."

"And at present?"

"Immediately on her return, she took up her position by your friend's
bedside. She is a first-rate nurse ... gentle ... attentive. Mr. Wilson
seems delighted with her."

"Oh!" said Shears, who had quite omitted to inquire after old chap's
progress.

He thought for a moment and asked:

"And did she go out on Sunday morning?"

"The day after the robbery?"

"Yes."

The baron called his wife and put the question to her. She replied:

"Mademoiselle took the children to the eleven o'clock mass, as usual."

"But before that?"

"Before? No.... Or rather.... But I was so upset by the theft!... Still,
I remember that, on the evening before, she asked leave to go out on
Sunday morning ... to see a cousin who was passing through Paris, I
think. But surely you don't suspect her?"

"Certainly not. But I should like to see her."

He went up to Wilson's room. A woman dressed like a hospital nurse, in a
long gray linen gown, was stooping over the sick man and giving him a
draught. When she turned round, Shears recognized the girl who had
spoken to him outside the Gare du Nord.

* * * * *

Not the slightest explanation passed between them. Alice Demun smiled
gently, with her grave and charming eyes, without a trace of
embarrassment. The Englishman wanted to speak, tried to utter a syllable
or two and was silent. Then she resumed her task, moved about
peacefully before Shears's astonished eyes, shifted bottles, rolled and
unrolled linen bandages and again gave him her bright smile.

Shears turned on his heels, went downstairs, saw M. d'Imblevalle's motor
in the courtyard, got into it and told the chauffeur to drive him to the
yard at Levallois of which the address was marked on the cab-ticket
given him by the child. Duprêt, the driver who had taken out No. 8279 on
Sunday morning, was not there and Shears sent back the motor-car and
waited until he came to change horses.

Duprêt the driver said yes, he had taken up a lady near the Parc
Monceau, a young lady in black, with a big veil on her: she seemed very
excited.

"Was she carrying a parcel?"

"Yes, a longish parcel."

"And where did you drive her to?"

"Avenue des Ternes, at the corner of the Place Saint-Ferdinand. She
stayed for ten minutes or so; and then we went back to the Parc
Monceau."

"Would you know the house again, in the Avenue des Ternes?"

"Rather! Shall I take you there?"

"Presently. Go first to 36, Quai des Orfèvres."

At the police headquarters he had the good fortune to come upon
Chief-Inspector Ganimard:

"Are you disengaged, M. Ganimard?"

"If it's about Lupin, no."

"It is about Lupin."

"Then I shan't stir."

"What! You give up...!"

"I give up the impossible. I am tired of this unequal contest of which
we are certain to have the worst. It's cowardly, it's ridiculous, it's
anything you please.... I don't care! Lupin is stronger than we are.
Consequently, there's nothing to do but give in."

"I'm not giving in!"

"He'll make you give in like the rest of us."

"Well, it's a sight that can't fail to please you."

"That's true enough," said Ganimard, innocently. "And, as you seem to
want another beating, come along!"

Ganimard and Shears stepped into the cab. They told the driver to stop a
little way before he came to the house and on the other side of the
avenue, in front of a small café. They sat down outside it, among tubs
of laurels and spindle-trees. The light was beginning to wane.

"Waiter!" said Shears. "Pen and ink!"

He wrote a note and, calling the waiter again, said:

"Take this to the concierge of the house opposite. It's the man in the
cap smoking his pipe in the gateway."

The concierge hurried across and, after Ganimard had announced himself
as a chief-inspector, Shears asked if a young lady in black had called
at the house on Sunday morning.

"In black? Yes, about nine o'clock: it's the one who goes up to the
second floor."

"Do you see much of her?"

"No, but she's been oftener lately: almost every day during the past
fortnight."

"And since Sunday?"

"Only once ... without counting to-day."

"What! Has she been to-day?"

"She's there now."

"She's there now?"

"Yes, she came about ten minutes ago. Her cab is waiting on the Place
Saint-Ferdinand, as usual. I passed her in the gateway."

"And who is the tenant of the second floor?"

"There are two: a dressmaker, Mademoiselle Langeais, and a gentleman who
hired a couple of furnished rooms, a month ago, under the name of
Bresson."

"What makes you say 'under the name'?"

"I have an idea that it's an assumed name. My wife does his rooms: well,
he hasn't two articles of clothing marked with the same initials."

"How does he live?"

"Oh, he's almost always out. Sometimes, he does not come home for three
days together."

"Did he come in on Saturday night?"

"On Saturday night?... Wait, while I think.... Yes, he came in on
Saturday night and hasn't stirred out since."

"And what sort of a man is he?"

"Faith, I couldn't say. He changes so! He's tall, he's short, he's fat,
he's thin ... dark and fair. I don't always recognize him."

Ganimard and Shears exchanged glances.

"It's he," muttered Ganimard. "It must be he."

For a moment, the old detective experienced a real agitation, which
betrayed itself by a deep breath and a clenching of the fists.

Shears too, although more master of himself, felt something clutching at
his heart.

"Look out!" said the concierge. "Here comes the young lady."

As he spoke, mademoiselle appeared in the gateway and crossed the
square.

"And here is M. Bresson."

"M. Bresson? Which is he?"

"The gentleman with a parcel under his arm."

"But he's taking no notice of the girl. She is going to her cab alone."

"Oh, well, I've never seen them together."

The two detectives rose hurriedly. By the light of the street-lamps,
they recognized Lupin's figure, as he walked away in the opposite
direction to the square.

"Which will you follow?" asked Ganimard.

"'Him,' of course. He's big game."

"Then I'll shadow the young lady," suggested Ganimard.

"No, no," said the Englishman quickly, not wishing to reveal any part of
the case to Ganimard. "I know where to find the young lady when I want
her.... Don't leave me."

* * * * *

At a distance and availing themselves of the occasional shelter of the
passers-by and the kiosks, Ganimard and Shears set off in pursuit of
Lupin. It was an easy enough pursuit, for he did not turn round and
walked quickly, with a slight lameness in the right leg, so slight that
it needed the eye of a trained observer to perceive it.

"He's pretending to limp!" said Ganimard. And he continued, "Ah, if we
could only pick up two or three policemen and pounce upon the fellow! As
it is, here's a chance of our losing him."

But no policeman appeared in sight before the Porte des Ternes; and,
once the fortifications were passed, they could not reckon on the least
assistance.

"Let us separate," said Shears. "The place is deserted."

They were on the Boulevard Victor-Hugo. They each took a different
pavement and followed the line of the trees.

They walked like this for twenty minutes, until the moment when Lupin
turned to the left and along the Seine. Here they saw him go down to the
edge of the river. He remained there for a few seconds, during which
they were unable to distinguish his movements. Then he climbed up the
bank again and returned by the way he had come. They pressed back
against the pillars of a gate. Lupin passed in front of them. He no
longer carried a parcel.

And, as he moved away, another figure appeared from behind the corner of
a house and slipped in between the trees.

Shears said, in a low voice:

"That one seems to be following him too."

"Yes, I believe I saw him before, as we came."

The pursuit was resumed, but was now complicated by the presence of this
figure. Lupin followed the same road, passed through the Porte des
Ternes again, and entered the house on the Place Saint-Ferdinand.

The concierge was closing the door for the night when Ganimard came up:

"You saw him, I suppose?"

"Yes, I was turning off the gas on the stairs. He has bolted his door."

"Is there no one with him?"

"No one: he doesn't keep a servant ... he never has his meals here."

"Is there no back staircase?"

"No."

Ganimard said to Shears:

"The best thing will be for me to place myself outside Lupin's door,
while you go to the Rue Demours and fetch the commissary of police. I'll
give you a line for him."

Shears objected:

"Suppose he escapes meanwhile?"

"But I shall be here!..."

"Single-handed, it would be an unequal contest between you and him."

"Still, I can't break into his rooms. I'm not entitled to, especially at
night."

Shears shrugged his shoulders:

"Once you've arrested Lupin, no one will haul you over the coals for the
particular manner in which you effected the arrest. Besides, we may as
well ring the bell, what! Then we'll see what happens."

They went up the stairs. There was a double door on the left of the
landing. Ganimard rang the bell.

Not a sound. He rang again. No one stirred.

"Let's go in," muttered Shears.

"Yes, come along."

Nevertheless, they remained motionless, irresolute. Like people who
hesitate before taking a decisive step, they were afraid to act; and it
suddenly seemed to them impossible that Arsène Lupin should be there, so
near to them, behind that frail partition, which they could smash with a
blow of their fists. They both of them knew him too well, demon that he
was, to admit that he would allow himself to be nabbed so stupidly. No,
no, a thousand times no; he was not there. He must have escaped, by the
adjoining houses, by the roofs, by some suitably prepared outlet; and,
once again, the shadow of Arsène Lupin was all that they could hope to
lay hands upon.

They shuddered. An imperceptible sound, coming from the other side of
the door, had, as it were, grazed the silence. And they received the
impression, the certainty that he was there after all, separated from
them by that thin wooden partition, and that he was listening to them,
that he heard them.

What were they to do? It was a tragic situation. For all their coolness
as old stagers of the police, they were overcome by so great an
excitement that they imagined they could hear the beating of their own
hearts.

Ganimard consulted Shears with a silent glance and then struck the door
violently with his fist.

A sound of footsteps was now heard, a sound which there was no longer
any attempt to conceal.

Ganimard shook the door. Shears gave an irresistible thrust with his
shoulder and burst it open; and they both rushed in.

Then they stopped short. A shot resounded in the next room. And another,
followed by the thud of a falling body.

When they entered, they saw the man lying with his face against the
marble of the mantel-piece. He gave a convulsive movement. His revolver
slipped from his hand.

Ganimard stooped and turned the dead man's head, it was covered with
blood, which trickled from two large wounds in the cheek and temple.

"There's no recognizing him," he whispered.

"One thing is certain," said Shears. "It's not 'he.'"

"How do you know? You haven't even examined him."

The Englishman sneered:

"Do you think Arsène Lupin is the man to kill himself?"

"Still, we believed we knew him outside."

"We believed, because we _wanted_ to believe. The fellow besets our
minds."

"Then it's one of his accomplices."

"Arsène Lupin's accomplices do not kill themselves."

"Then who is it?"

They searched the body. In one pocket, Holmlock Shears found an empty
note-case; in another, Ganimard found a few louis. There were no marks
on his linen or on his clothes.

The trunks - a big box and two bags - contained nothing but personal
effects. There was a bundle of newspapers on the mantel-piece. Ganimard
opened them. They all spoke of the theft of the Jewish lamp.

An hour later, when Ganimard and Shears left the house, they knew no
more about the strange individual whom their intervention had driven to
suicide.

Who was he? Why had he taken his life? What link connected him with the
disappearance of the Jewish lamp? Who was it that dogged his steps
during his walk? These were all complicated questions ... so many
mysteries.

* * * * *

Holmlock Shears went to bed in a very bad temper. When he woke, he
received an express letter couched in these words:

"Arsène Lupin begs to inform you of his tragic decease in the
person of one Bresson and requests the honour of your company at
his funeral, which will take place, at the public expense, on
Thursday, the 25th of June."




CHAPTER II


"You see, old chap," said Holmlock Shears to Wilson, waving Arsène
Lupin's letter in his hand, "the worst of this business is that I feel
the confounded fellow's eye constantly fixed upon me. Not one of my most
secret thoughts escape him. I am behaving like an actor, whose steps are
ruled by the strictest stage-directions, who moves here or there and
says this or that because a superior will has so determined it. Do you
understand, Wilson?"

Wilson would no doubt have understood had he not been sleeping the sound
sleep of a man whose temperature is fluctuating between 102 and 104
degrees. But whether he heard or not made no difference to Shears, who
continued:

"It will need all my energy and all my resources not to be discouraged.
Fortunately, with me, these little gibes are only so many pin-pricks
which stimulate me to further exertions. Once the sting is allayed and
the wound in my self-respect closed, I always end by saying: 'Laugh
away, my lad. Sooner or later, you will be betrayed by your own hand.'
For, when all is said, Wilson, wasn't it Lupin himself who, with his
first telegram and the reflection which it suggested to that little
Henriette, revealed to me the secret of his correspondence with Alice
Demun? You forget that detail, old chap."

He walked up and down the room, with resounding strides, at the risk of
waking old chap:

"However, things might be worse; and, though the paths which I am
following appear a little dark, I am beginning to see my way. To start
with, I shall soon know all about Master Bresson. Ganimard and I have an
appointment on the bank of the Seine, at the spot where Bresson flung
his parcel, and we shall find out who he was and what he wanted. As
regards the rest, it's a game to be played out between Alice Demun and
me. Not a very powerful adversary, eh, Wilson? And don't you think I
shall soon know the sentence in the album and what those two single
letters mean, the C and the H? For the whole mystery lies in that,
Wilson."

At this moment, mademoiselle entered the room and, seeing Shears wave
his arms about, said: "Mr. Shears, I shall be very angry with you if
you wake my patient. It's not nice of you to disturb him. The doctor
insists upon absolute calm."

He looked at her without a word, astonished, as on the first day, at her
inexplicable composure.

"Why do you look at me like that, Mr. Shears?... You always seem to have
something at the back of your mind.... What is it? Tell me, please."

She questioned him with all her bright face, with her guileless eyes,
her smiling lips and with her attitude too, her hands joined together,
her body bent slightly forward. And so great was her candour that it
roused the Englishman's anger. He came up to her and said, in a low
voice:

"Bresson committed suicide yesterday."

She repeated, without appearing to understand:

"Bresson committed suicide yesterday?"

As a matter of fact, her features underwent no change whatever; nothing
revealed the effort of a lie.

"You have been told," he said, irritably. "If not, you would at least
have started.... Ah, you are cleverer than I thought! But why pretend?"

He took the picture-book, which he had placed on a table close at hand,
and, opening it at the cut page:

"Can you tell me," he asked, "in what order I am to arrange the letters
missing here, so that I may understand the exact purport of the note
which you sent to Bresson four days before the theft of the Jewish
Lamp?"

"In what order?... Bresson?... The theft of the Jewish Lamp?"

She repeated the words, slowly, as though to make out their meaning.

He insisted:

"Yes, here are the letters you used ... on this scrap of paper. What
were you saying to Bresson?"

"The letters I used...? What was I saying to...?"

Suddenly she burst out laughing:

"I see! I understand! I am an accomplice in the theft! There is a
M. Bresson who stole the Jewish Lamp and killed himself. And I am the
gentleman's friend! Oh, how amusing!"

"Then whom did you go to see yesterday evening, on the second floor of a
house in the Avenue des Ternes?"

"Whom? Why, my dressmaker, Mlle. Langeais! Do you mean to imply that my
dressmaker and my friend M. Bresson are one and the same person?"

Shears began to doubt, in spite of all. It is possible to counterfeit
almost any feeling in such a way as to put another person off: terror,
joy, anxiety; but not indifference, not happy and careless laughter.

However, he said:

"One last word. Why did you accost me at the Gare du Nord the other
evening? And why did you beg me to go back at once without busying
myself about the robbery?"

"Oh, you're much too curious, Mr. Shears," she replied, still laughing
in the most natural way. "To punish you, I will tell you nothing and, in
addition, you shall watch the patient while I go to the chemist....
There's an urgent prescription to be made up.... I must hurry!"

She left the room.

"I have been tricked," muttered Shears. "I've not only got nothing out
of her, but I have given myself away."

And he remembered the case of the blue diamond and the cross-examination
to which he had subjected Clotilde Destange. Mademoiselle had
encountered him with the same serenity as the blonde lady and he felt
that he was again face to face with one of those creatures who,
protected by Arsène Lupin and under the direct action of his influence,
preserved the most inscrutable calmness amid the very agony of danger.

"Shears.... Shears...."

It was Wilson calling him. He went to the bed and bent over him:

"What is it, old chap? Feeling bad?"

Wilson moved his lips, but was unable to speak. At last, after many
efforts, he stammered out:

"No ... Shears ... it wasn't she ... it can't have been...."

"What nonsense are you talking now? I tell you that it was she! It's
only when I'm in the presence of a creature of Lupin's, trained and
drilled by him, that I lose my head and behave so foolishly.... She now
knows the whole story of the album.... I bet you that Lupin will be told
in less than an hour. Less than an hour? What am I talking about? This
moment, most likely! The chemist, the urgent prescription: humbug!"

Without a further thought of Wilson, he rushed from the room, went down
the Avenue de Messine and saw Mademoiselle enter a chemist's shop. She
came out, ten minutes later, carrying two or three medicine-bottles
wrapped up in white paper. But, when she returned up the avenue, she was
accosted by a man who followed her, cap in hand and with an obsequious
air, as though he were begging.

She stopped, gave him an alms and then continued on her way.

"She spoke to him," said the Englishman to himself.

It was an intuition rather than a certainty, but strong enough to induce
him to alter his tactics. Leaving the girl, he set off on the track of
the sham beggar.

They arrived in this way, one behind the other, on the Place
Saint-Ferdinand; and the man hovered long round Bresson's house,
sometimes raising his eyes to the second-floor windows and watching the
people who entered the house.

At the end of an hour's time, he climbed to the top of a tram-car that
was starting for Neuilly. Shears climbed up also and sat down behind the
fellow, at some little distance, beside a gentleman whose features were
concealed by the newspaper which he was reading. When they reached the
fortifications, the newspaper was lowered, Shears recognized Ganimard
and Ganimard, pointing to the fellow, said in his ear:

"It's our man of last night, the one who followed Bresson. He's been
hanging round the square for an hour."

"Nothing new about Bresson?"

"Yes, a letter arrived this morning addressed to him."

"This morning? Then it must have been posted yesterday, before the
writer knew of Bresson's death."

"Just so. It is with the examining magistrate, but I can tell you the
exact words: 'He accepts no compromise. He wants everything, the first
thing as well as those of the second business. If not, he will take
steps.' And no signature," added Ganimard. "As you can see, those few
lines won't be of much use to us."

"I don't agree with you at all, M. Ganimard: on the contrary, I consider
them very interesting."

"And why, bless my soul?"

"For reasons personal to myself," said Shears, with the absence of
ceremony with which he was accustomed to treat his colleague.

The tram stopped at the terminus in the Rue du Château. The man climbed
down and walked away quietly. Shears followed so closely on his heels
that Ganimard took alarm:

"If he turns round, we are done."

"He won't turn round now."

"What do you know about it?"


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