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"He is an accomplice of Arsène Lupin's and the fact that an accomplice
of Lupin's walks away like that, with his hands in his pockets, proves,
in the first place, that he knows he's followed, and in the second, that
he's not afraid."

"Still, we're running him pretty hard!"

"No matter, he can slip through our fingers in a minute, if he wants.
He's too sure of himself."

"Come, come; you're getting at me! There are two cyclist police at the
door of that café over there. If I decide to call on them and to tackle
our friend, I should like to know how he's going to slip through our
fingers."

"Our friend does not seem much put out by that contingency. And he's
calling on them himself!"

"By Jupiter!" said Ganimard. "The cheek of the fellow!"

The man, in fact, had walked up to the two policemen just as these were
preparing to mount their bicycles. He spoke a few words to them and
then, suddenly, sprang upon a third bicycle, which was leaning against
the wall of the café, and rode away quickly with the two policemen.

The Englishman burst with laughter:

"There, what did I tell you? Off before we knew where we were; and with
two of your colleagues, M. Ganimard! Ah, he looks after himself, does
Arsène Lupin! With cyclist policemen in his pay! Didn't I tell you our
friend was a great deal too calm!"

"What then?" cried Ganimard, angrily. "What could I do? It's very easy
to laugh!"

"Come, come, don't be cross. We'll have our revenge. For the moment,
what we want is reinforcements."

"Folenfant is waiting for me at the end of the Avenue de Neuilly."

"All right, pick him up and join me, both of you."

Ganimard went away, while Shears followed the tracks of the bicycles,
which were easily visible on the dust of the road because two of the
machines were fitted with grooved tires. And he soon saw that these
tracks were leading him to the bank of the Seine and that the three men
had turned in the same direction as Bresson on the previous evening. He
thus came to the gate against which he himself had hidden with Ganimard
and, a little farther on, he saw a tangle of grooved lines which showed
that they had stopped there. Just opposite, a little neck of land jutted
into the river and, at the end of it, an old boat lay fastened.

This was where Bresson must have flung his parcel, or, rather, dropped
it. Shears went down the incline and saw that, as the bank sloped very
gently, and the water was low, he would easily find the parcel ...
unless the three men had been there first.

"No, no," he said to himself, "they have not had time ... a quarter of
an hour at most..... And, yet, why did they come this way?"

A man was sitting in the boat, fishing. Shears asked him:

"Have you seen three men on bicycles?"

The angler shook his head.

The Englishman insisted:

"Yes, yes.... Three men.... They stopped only a few yards from where you
are."

The angler put his rod under his arm, took a note-book from his pocket,
wrote something on one of the pages, tore it out and handed it to
Shears.

A great thrill shook the Englishman. At a glance, in the middle of the
page which he held in his hand, he recognized the letters torn from the
picture-book:

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

* * * * *

The sun hung heavily over the river. The angler had resumed his work,
sheltered under the huge brim of his straw hat; his jacket and waistcoat
lay folded by his side. He fished attentively, while the float of his
line rocked idly on the current.

Quite a minute elapsed, a minute of solemn and awful silence.

"Is it he?" thought Shears, with an almost painful anxiety.

And then the truth burst upon him:

"It is he! It is he! He alone is capable of sitting like that, without a
tremor of uneasiness, without the least fear as to what will happen....
And who else could know the story of the picture-book? Alice must have
told him by her messenger."

Suddenly, the Englishman felt that his hand, that his own hand, had
seized the butt-end of his revolver and that his eyes were fixed on the
man's back, just below the neck. One movement and the whole play was
finished; a touch of the trigger and the life of the strange adventurer
had come to a miserable end.

The angler did not stir.

Shears nervously gripped his weapon with a fierce longing to fire and
have done with it and, at the same time, with horror of a deed against
which his nature revolted. Death was certain. It would be over.

"Oh," he thought, "let him get up, let him defend himself.... If not, he
will have only himself to blame.... Another second ... and I fire."

But a sound of footsteps made him turn his head and he saw Ganimard
arrive, accompanied by the inspectors.

Then, changing his idea, he leapt forward, sprang at one bound into the
boat, breaking the painter with the force of the jump, fell upon the man
and held him in a close embrace. They both rolled to the bottom of the
boat.

"Well?" cried Lupin, struggling. "And then? What does this prove?
Suppose one of us reduces the other to impotence: what will he have
gained? You will not know what to do with me nor I with you. We shall
stay here like a couple of fools!"

The two oars slipped into the water. The boat began to drift. Mingled
exclamations resounded along the bank and Lupin continued:

"Lord, what a business! Have you lost all sense of things?... Fancy
being so silly at your age! You great schoolboy! You ought to be
ashamed!"

He succeeded in releasing himself.

Exasperated, resolved to stick at nothing, Shears put his hand in his
pocket. An oath escaped him. Lupin had taken his revolver.

Then he threw himself on his knees and tried to catch hold of one of the
oars, in order to pull to the shore, while Lupin made desperate efforts
after the other, in order to pull out to mid-stream.

"Got it!... Missed it!" said Lupin. "However, it makes no difference....
If you get your oar, I'll prevent your using it.... And you'll do as
much for me.... But there, in life, we strive to act ... without the
least reason, for it's always fate that decides.... There, you see, fate
... well, she's deciding for her old friend Lupin!... Victory! The
current's favouring me!"

The boat, in fact, was drifting away.

"Look out!" cried Lupin.

Some one, on the bank, pointed a revolver. Lupin ducked his head; a
shot rang out; a little water spurted up around them. He burst out
laughing:

"Heaven help us, it's friend Ganimard!... Now that's very wrong of you,
Ganimard. You have no right to fire except in self-defence.... Does poor
Arsène make you so furious that you forget your duties?... Hullo, he's
starting again!... But, wretched man, be careful: you'll hit my dear
maître here!"

He made a bulwark of his body for Shears and, standing up in the boat,
facing Ganimard:

"There, now I don't mind!... Aim here, Ganimard, straight at my
heart!... Higher ... to the left.... Missed again ... you clumsy
beggar!... Another shot?... But you're trembling, Ganimard!... At the
word of command, eh? And steady now ... one, two, three, fire!...
Missed! Dash it all, does the Government give you toys for pistols?"

He produced a long, massive, flat revolver and fired without taking aim.

The inspector lifted his hand to his hat: a bullet had made a hole
through it.

"What do you say to that, Ganimard? Ah, this is a better make! Hats off,
gentlemen: this is the revolver of my noble friend, Maître Holmlock
Shears!"

And he tossed the weapon to the bank, right at the inspector's feet.

Shears could not help giving a smile of admiration. What superabundant
life! What young and spontaneous gladness! And how he seemed to enjoy
himself! It was as though the sense of danger gave him a physical
delight, as though life had no other object for this extraordinary man
than the search of dangers which he amused himself afterward by
averting.

Meantime, crowds had gathered on either side of the river and Ganimard
and his men were following the craft, which swung down the stream,
carried very slowly by the current. It meant inevitable, mathematical
capture.

"Confess, maître," cried Lupin, turning to the Englishman, "that you
would not give up your seat for all the gold in the Transvaal! You are
in the first row of the stalls! But, first and before all, the prologue
... after which we will skip straight to the fifth act, the capture or
the escape of Arsène Lupin. Therefore, my dear maître, I have one
request to make of you and I beg you to answer yes or no, to save all
ambiguity. Cease interesting yourself in this business. There is yet
time and I am still able to repair the harm which you have done. Later
on, I shall not be. Do you agree?"

"No."

Lupin's features contracted. This obstinacy was causing him visible
annoyance. He resumed:

"I insist. I insist even more for your sake than my own, for I am
certain that you will be the first to regret your interference. Once
more, yes or no?"

"No."

Lupin squatted on his heels, shifted one of the planks at the bottom of
the boat and, for a few minutes, worked at something which Shears could
not see. Then he rose, sat down beside the Englishman and spoke to him
in these words:

"I believe, maître, that you and I came to the river-bank with the same
purpose, that of fishing up the object which Bresson got rid of, did we
not? I, for my part, had made an appointment to meet a few friends and I
was on the point, as my scanty costume shows, of effecting a little
exploration in the depths of the Seine when my friends gave me notice of
your approach. I am bound to confess that I was not surprised, having
been kept informed, I venture to say, hourly, of the progress of your
inquiry. It is so easy! As soon as the least thing likely to interest me
occurs in the Rue Murillo, quick, they ring me up and I know all about
it! You can understand that, in these conditions...."

He stopped. The plank which he had removed now rose a trifle and water
was filtering in, all around, in driblets.

"The deuce! I don't know how I managed it, but I have every reason to
think that there's a leak in this old boat. You're not afraid, maître?"

Shears shrugged his shoulders. Lupin continued:

"You can understand, therefore, that, in these conditions and knowing
beforehand that you would seek the contest all the more greedily the
more I strove to avoid it, I was rather pleased at the idea of playing a
rubber with you the result of which is certain, seeing that I hold all
the trumps. And I wished to give our meeting the greatest possible
publicity, so that your defeat might be universally known and no new
Comtesse de Crozon nor Baron d'Imblevalle be tempted to solicit your aid
against me. And, in all this, my dear maître, you must not see ..."

He interrupted himself again, and, using his half-closed hands as a
field-glass, he watched the banks:

"By Jove! They've freighted a splendid cutter, a regular man-of-war's
boat, and they're rowing like anything! In five minutes they will board
us and I shall be lost. Mr. Shears, let me give you one piece of advice:
throw yourself upon me, tie me hand and foot and deliver me to the law
of my country.... Does that suit you?... Unless we suffer shipwreck
meanwhile, in which case there will be nothing for us to do but make our
wills. What do you say?"

Their eyes met. This time, Shears understood Lupin's operations: he had
made a hole in the bottom of the boat.

And the water was rising. It reached the soles of their boots. It
covered their feet; they did not move.

It came above their ankles: the Englishman took his tobacco-pouch,
rolled a cigarette and lit it.

Lupin continued:

"And, in all this, my dear maître, you must not see anything more than
the humble confession of my powerlessness in face of you. It is
tantamount to yielding to you, when I accept only those contests in
which my victory is assured, in order to avoid those of which I shall
not have selected the field. It is tantamount to recognizing that
Holmlock Shears is the only enemy whom I fear and proclaiming my anxiety
as long as Shears is not removed from my path. This, my dear maître, is
what I wished to tell you, on this one occasion when fate has allowed me
the honour of a conversation with you. I regret only one thing, which is
that this conversation should take place while we are having a foot-bath
... a position lacking in dignity, I must confess.... And what was I
saying?... A foot-bath!... A hip-bath rather!"

The water, in fact, had reached the seat on which they were sitting and
the boat sank lower and lower in the water.

Shears sat imperturbable, his cigarette at his lips, apparently wrapped
in contemplation of the sky. For nothing in the world, in the face of
that man surrounded by dangers, hemmed in by the crowd, hunted down by a
posse of police and yet always retaining his good humour, for nothing in
the world would he have consented to display the least sign of
agitation.

"What!" they both seemed to be saying. "Do people get excited about such
trifles? Is it not a daily occurrence to get drowned in a river? Is
this the sort of event that deserves to be noticed?"

And the one chattered and the other mused, while both concealed under
the same mask of indifference the formidable clash of their respective
prides.

Another minute and they would sink.

"The essential thing," said Lupin, "is to know if we shall sink before
or after the arrival of the champions of the law! All depends upon that.
For the question of shipwreck is no longer in doubt. Maître, the solemn
moment has come to make our wills. I leave all my real and personal
estate to Holmlock Shears, a citizen of the British Empire.... But, by
Jove, how fast they are coming, those champions of the law! Oh, the dear
people! It's a pleasure to watch them! What precision of stroke! Ah, is
that you, Sergeant Folenfant? Well done! That idea of the man-of-war's
cutter was capital. I shall recommend you to your superiors, Sergeant
Folenfant.... And weren't you hoping for a medal? Right you are!
Consider it yours!... and where's your friend Dieuzy? On the left bank,
I suppose, in the midst of a hundred natives.... So that, if I escape
shipwreck, I shall be picked up on the left by Dieuzy and his natives
or else on the right by Ganimard and the Neuilly tribes. A nasty
dilemma...."

There was an eddy. The boat swung round and Shears was obliged to cling
to the row locks.

"Maître," said Lupin, "I beg of you to take off your jacket. You will be
more comfortable for swimming. You won't? Then I shall put on mine
again."

He slipped on his jacket, buttoned it tightly like Shears's and sighed:

"What a fine fellow you are! And what a pity that you should persist in
a business ... in which you are certainly doing the very best you can,
but all in vain! Really, you are throwing away your distinguished
talent."

"M. Lupin," said Shears, at last abandoning his silence, "you talk a
great deal too much and you often err through excessive confidence and
frivolity."

"That's a serious reproach."

"It was in this way that, without knowing it, you supplied me, a moment
ago, with the information I wanted."

"What! You wanted some information, and you never told me!"

"I don't require you or anybody. In three hours' time I shall hand the
solution of the puzzle to M. and reply ..."

He did not finish his sentence. The boat had suddenly foundered,
dragging them both with her. She rose to the surface at once,
overturned, with her keel in the air. Loud shouts came from the two
banks, followed by an anxious silence and, suddenly, fresh cries: one of
the shipwrecked men had reappeared.

It was Holmlock Shears.

An excellent swimmer, he struck out boldly for Folenfant's boat.

"Cheerly, Mr. Shears!" roared the detective-sergeant. "You're all
right!... Keep on ... we'll see about him afterward.... We've got him
right enough ... one more effort, Mr. Shears ... catch hold...."

The Englishman seized a rope which they threw to him. But, while they
were dragging him on board, a voice behind him called out:

"Yes, my dear maître, you shall have the solution. I am even surprised
that you have not hit upon it already.... And then? What use will it be
to you? It's just then that you will have lost the battle...."

Seated comfortably astride the hulk, of which he had scaled the sides
while talking, Arsène Lupin continued his speech with solemn gestures
and as though he hoped to convince his hearers:

"Do you understand, my dear maître, that there is nothing to be done,
absolutely nothing.... You are in the deplorable position of a gentleman
who ..."

Folenfant took aim at him:

"Lupin, surrender!"

"You're an ill-bred person, Sergeant Folenfant; you've interrupted me in
the middle of a sentence. I was saying ..."

"Lupin, surrender!"

"But, dash it all, Sergeant Folenfant, one only surrenders when in
danger! Now surely you have not the face to believe that I am running
the least danger!"

"For the last time, Lupin, I call on you to surrender!"

"Sergeant Folenfant, you have not the smallest intention of killing me;
at the most you mean to wound me, you're so afraid of my escaping! And
supposing that, by accident, the wound should be mortal? Oh, think of
your remorse, wretched man, of your blighted old age ..."

The shot went off.

Lupin staggered, clung for a moment to the overturned boat, then let go
and disappeared.

* * * * *

It was just three o'clock when these events happened. At six o'clock
precisely, as he had declared, Holmlock Shears, clad in a pair of
trousers too short and a jacket too tight for him, which he had borrowed
from an inn-keeper at Neuilly, and wearing a cap and a flannel shirt
with a silk cord and tassels, entered the boudoir in the Rue Murillo,
after sending word to M. and Mme. d'Imblevalle to ask for an interview.

They found him walking up and down. And he looked to them so comical in
his queer costume that they had a difficulty in suppressing their
inclination to laugh. With a pensive air and a bent back, he walked,
like an automaton, from the window to the door and the door to the
window, taking each time the same number of steps and turning each time
in the same direction.

He stopped, took up a knick-knack, examined it mechanically and then
resumed his walk.

At last, planting himself in front of them, he asked:

"Is mademoiselle here?"

"Yes, in the garden, with the children."

"Monsieur le baron, as this will be our final conversation, I should
like Mlle. Demun to be present at it."

"So you decidedly...?"

"Have a little patience, monsieur. The truth will emerge plainly from
the facts which I propose to lay before you with the greatest possible
precision."

"Very well. Suzanne, do you mind...?"

Mme. d'Imblevalle rose and returned almost at once, accompanied by Alice
Demun. Mademoiselle, looking a little paler than usual, remained
standing, leaning against a table and without even asking to know why
she had been sent for.

Shears appeared not to see her and, turning abruptly toward
M. d'Imblevalle, made his statement in a tone that admitted
of no reply:

"After an inquiry extending over several days, and although certain
events for a moment altered my view, I will repeat what I said from the
first, that the Jewish lamp was stolen by some one living in this
house."

"The name?"

"I know it."

"Your evidence?"

"The evidence which I have is enough to confound the culprit."

"It is not enough that the culprit should be confounded. He must
restore...."

"The Jewish lamp? It is in my possession!"

"The opal necklace? The snuff-box?..."

"The opal necklace, the snuff-box, in short everything that was stolen
on the second occasion is in my possession."

Shears loved this dry, claptrap way of announcing his triumphs.

As a matter of fact, the baron and his wife seemed stupefied and looked
at him with a silent curiosity which was, in itself, the highest praise.

He next summed up in detail all that he had done during those three
days. He told how he had discovered the picture-book, wrote down on a
sheet of paper the sentence formed by the letters which had been cut
out, then described Bresson's expedition to the bank of the Seine and
his suicide and, lastly, the struggle in which he, Shears, had just been
engaged with Lupin, the wreck of the boat and Lupin's disappearance.

When he had finished, the baron said, in a low voice:

"Nothing remains but that you should reveal the name of the thief. Whom
do you accuse?"

"I accuse the person who cut out the letters from this alphabet and
communicated, by means of those letters, with Arsène Lupin."

"How do you know that this person's correspondent was Arsène Lupin?"

"From Lupin himself."

He held out a scrap of moist and crumpled paper. It was the page which
Lupin had torn from his note-book in the boat, and on which he had
written the sentence.

"And observe," said Shears, in a gratified voice, "that there was
nothing to compel him to give me this paper and thus make himself known.
It was a mere schoolboy prank on his part, which gave me the information
I wanted."

"What information?" asked the baron. "I don't see...."

Shears copied out the letters and figures in pencil:

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

"Well?" said M. d'Imblevalle. "That's the formula which you have just
shown us yourself."

"No. If you had turned this formula over and over, as I have done, you
would have seen at once that it contains two more letters than the
first, an E and an O."

"As a matter of fact, I did not notice...."

"Place these two letters beside the C and H which remained over from
the word _Répondez_, and you will see that the only possible word is
'ÉCHO.'"

"Which means...?"

"Which means the _Écho de France_, Lupin's newspaper, his own organ, the
one for which he reserves his official communications. 'Send reply to
the _Écho de France_, agony column, No. 237.' That was the key for which
I had hunted so long and with which Lupin was kind enough to supply me.
I have just come from the office of the _Écho de France_."

"And what have you found?"

"I have found the whole detailed story of the relations between Arsène
Lupin and ... his accomplice."

And Shears spread out seven newspapers, opened at the fourth page, and
picked out the following lines:

1. ARS. LUP. Lady impl. protect. 540.
2. 540. Awaiting explanations. A. L.
3. A. L. Under dominion of enemy. Lost.
4. 540. Write address. Will make enq.
5. A. L. Murillo.
6. 540. Park 3 p. m. Violets.
7. 237. Agreed Sat. Shall be park. Sun. morn.

"And you call that a detailed story!" exclaimed M. d'Imblevalle.

"Why, of course; and, if you will pay attention, you will think the
same. First of all, a lady, signing herself 540, implores the protection
of Arsène Lupin. To this Lupin replies with a request for explanations.
The lady answers that she is under the dominion of an enemy, Bresson, no
doubt, and that she is lost unless some one comes to her assistance.
Lupin, who is suspicious and dares not yet have an interview with the
stranger, asks for the address and suggests an inquiry. The lady
hesitates for four days - see the dates - and, at last, under the pressure
of events and the influence of Bresson's threats, gives the name of her
street, the Rue Murillo. The next day, Arsène Lupin advertises that he
will be in the Parc Monceau at three o'clock and asks the stranger to
wear a bunch of violets as a token. Here follows an interruption of
eight days in the correspondence. Arsène Lupin and the lady no longer
need write through the medium of the paper: they see each other or
correspond direct. The plot is contrived: to satisfy Bresson's
requirements, the lady will take the Jewish lamp. It remains to fix the
day. The lady, who, from motives of prudence, corresponds by means of
words cut out and stuck together, decides upon Saturday, and adds, 'Send
reply _Écho_ 237.' Lupin replies that it is agreed and that, moreover,
he will be in the park on Sunday morning. On Sunday morning, the theft
took place."

"Yes, everything fits in," said the baron, approvingly, "and the story
is complete."

Shears continued:

"So the theft took place. The lady goes out on Sunday morning, tells
Lupin what she has done and carries the Jewish lamp to Bresson. Things
then happen as Lupin foresaw. The police, misled by an open window, four
holes in the ground and two scratches on a balcony, at once accept the


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