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burglary suggestion. The lady is easy in her mind."

"Very well," said the baron. "I accept this explanation as perfectly
logical. But the second theft...."

"The second theft was provoked by the first. After the newspapers had
told how the Jewish lamp had disappeared, some one thought of returning
to the attack and seizing hold of everything that had not been carried
away. And, this time, it was not a pretended theft, but a real theft,
with a genuine burglary, ladders, and so on."

"Lupin, of course...?"

"No, Lupin does not act so stupidly. Lupin does not fire at people
without very good reason."

"Then who was it?"

"Bresson, no doubt, unknown to the lady whom he had been blackmailing.
It was Bresson who broke in here, whom I pursued, who wounded my poor
Wilson."

"Are you quite sure?"

"Absolutely. One of Bresson's accomplices wrote him a letter yesterday,
before his suicide, which shows that this accomplice and Lupin had
entered upon a parley for the restitution of all the articles stolen
from your house. Lupin demanded everything, 'the first thing,' that is
to say, the Jewish lamp, 'as well as those of the second business.'
Moreover, he watched Bresson. When Bresson went to the bank of the Seine
yesterday evening, one of Lupin's associates was dogging him at the same
time as ourselves."

"What was Bresson doing at the bank of the Seine?"

"Warned of the progress of my inquiry...."

"Warned by whom?"

"By the same lady, who very rightly feared lest the discovery of the
Jewish lamp should entail the discovery of her adventure.... Bresson,
therefore, warned, collected into one parcel all that might compromise
him and dropped it in a place where it would be possible for him to
recover it, once the danger was past. It was on his return that, hunted
down by Ganimard and me and doubtless having other crimes on his
conscience, he lost his head and shot himself."

"But what did the parcel contain?"

"The Jewish lamp and your other things."

"Then they are not in your possession?"

"Immediately after Lupin's disappearance, I took advantage of the bath
which he had compelled me to take to drive to the spot chosen by
Bresson; and I found your stolen property wrapped up in linen and
oil-skin. Here it is, on the table."

Without a word, the baron cut the string, tore through the pieces of wet
linen, took out the lamp, turned a screw under the foot, pressed with
both hands on the receiver, opened it into two equal parts and revealed
the golden chimera, set with rubies and emeralds. It was untouched.

* * * * *

In all this scene, apparently so natural and consisting of a simple
statement of facts, there was something that made it terribly tragic,
which was the formal, direct, irrefutable accusation which Shears hurled
at mademoiselle with every word he uttered. And there was also Alice
Demun's impressive silence.

During that long, that cruel accumulation of small super-added proofs,
not a muscle of her face had moved, not a gleam of rebellion or fear had
disturbed the serenity of her limpid glance. What was she thinking? And,
still more, what would she say at the solemn moment when she must reply,
when she must defend herself and break the iron circle in which the
Englishman had so cleverly imprisoned her?

The moment had struck, and the girl was silent.

"Speak! speak!" cried M. d'Imblevalle.

She did not speak.

He insisted:

"One word will clear you.... One word of protest and I will believe
you."

That word she did not utter.

The baron stepped briskly across the room, returned, went back again and
then, addressing Shears:

"Well, no, sir! I refuse to believe it true! There are some crimes which
are impossible! And this is opposed to all that I know, all that I have
seen for a year." He put his hand on the Englishman's shoulder. "But are
you yourself, sir, absolutely and definitely sure that you are not
mistaken?"

Shears hesitated, like a man attacked unawares, who does not defend
himself at once. However, he smiled and said:

"No one but the person whom I accuse could, thanks to the position which
she fills in your house, know that the Jewish lamp contained that
magnificent jewel."

"I refuse to believe it," muttered the baron.

"Ask her."

It was, in fact, the one thing which he had not tried, in the blind
confidence which he felt in the girl. But it was no longer permissible
to deny the evidence.

He went up to her and, looking her straight in the eyes:

"Was it you, mademoiselle? Did you take the jewel? Did you correspond
with Arsène Lupin and sham the burglary?"

She replied:

"Yes, monsieur."

She did not lower her head. Her face expressed neither shame nor
embarrassment.

"Is it possible?" stammered M. d'Imblevalle. "I would never have
believed ... you are the last person I should have suspected.... How
did you do it, unhappy girl?"

She said:

"I did as Mr. Shears has said. On Saturday night, I came down here to
the boudoir, took the lamp and, in the morning, carried it ... to that
man."

"But no," objected the baron; "what you say is impossible."

"Impossible! Why?"

"Because I found the door of the boudoir locked in the morning."

She coloured, lost countenance and looked at Shears as though to ask his
advice.

The Englishman seemed struck by Alice's embarrassment even more than by
the baron's objection. Had she, then, no reply to make? Did the
confession that confirmed the explanation which he, Shears, had given of
the theft of the Jewish lamp conceal a lie which an examination of the
facts at once laid bare?

The baron continued:

"The door was locked, I repeat. I declare that I found the bolt as I
left it at night. If you had come that way, as you pretend, someone must
have opened the door to you from the inside - that is to say, from the
boudoir or from our bedroom. Now there was no one in these two rooms
... no one except my wife and myself."

Shears bent down quickly and covered his face with his two hands to hide
it. He had flushed scarlet. Something resembling too sudden a light had
struck him and left him dazed and ill at ease. The whole stood revealed
to him like a dim landscape from which the darkness was suddenly
lifting.

Alice Demun was innocent.

Alice Demun was innocent. That was a certain, blinding fact and, at the
same time, explained the sort of embarrassment which he had felt since
the first day at directing the terrible accusation against this young
girl. He saw clearly now. He knew. It needed but a movement and, then
and there, the irrefutable proof would stand forth before him.

He raised his head and, after a few seconds, as naturally as he could,
turned his eyes toward Mme. d'Imblevalle.

She was pale, with that unaccustomed pallor that overcomes us at the
relentless hours of life. Her hands, which she strove to hide, trembled
imperceptibly.

"Another second," thought Shears, "and she will have betrayed herself."

He placed himself between her and her husband, with the imperious
longing to ward off the terrible danger which, through his fault,
threatened this man and this woman. But, at the sight of the baron, he
shuddered to the very depths of his being. The same sudden revelation
which had dazzled him with its brilliancy was now enlightening
M. d'Imblevalle. The same thought was working in the husband's brain.
He understood in his turn! He saw!

Desperately, Alice Demun strove to resist the implacable truth:

"You are right, monsieur; I made a mistake. As a matter of fact, I did
not come in this way. I went through the hall and the garden and, with
the help of a ladder...."

It was a supreme effort of devotion ... but a useless effort! The words
did not ring true. The voice had lost its assurance and the sweet girl
was no longer able to retain her limpid glance and her great air of
sincerity. She hung her head, defeated.

* * * * *

The silence was frightful. Mme. d'Imblevalle waited, her features livid
and drawn with anguish and fear. The baron seemed to be still
struggling, as though refusing to believe in the downfall of his
happiness.

At last he stammered:

"Speak! Explain yourself!"

"I have nothing to say, my poor friend," she said, in a very low voice
her features wrung with despair.

"Then ... mademoiselle...?"

"Mademoiselle saved me ... through devotion ... through affection ...
and accused herself...."

"Saved you from what? From whom?"

"From that man."

"Bresson?"

"Yes, he held me by his threats.... I met him at a friend's house ...
and I had the madness to listen to him. Oh, there was nothing that you
cannot forgive!... But I wrote him two letters ... you shall see them....
I bought them back ... you know how.... Oh, have pity on me.... I have
been so unhappy!"

"You! You! Suzanne!"

He raised his clenched fists to her, ready to beat her, ready to kill
her. But his arms fell to his sides and he murmured again:

"You, Suzanne!... You!... Is it possible?"

In short, abrupt sentences, she told the heartbreaking and commonplace
story: her terrified awakening in the face of the man's infamy, her
remorse, her madness; and she also described Alice's admirable conduct:
the girl suspecting her mistress's despair, forcing a confession from
her, writing to Lupin and contriving this story of a robbery to save her
from Bresson's clutches.

"You, Suzanne, you!" repeated M. d'Imblevalle, bent double, overwhelmed.
"How could you...?"

* * * * *

On the evening of the same day, the steamer _Ville de Londres_, from
Calais to Dover, was gliding slowly over the motionless water. The night
was dark and calm. Peaceful clouds were suggested rather than seen above
the boat and, all around, light veils of mist separated her from the
infinite space in which the moon and stars were shedding their cold, but
invisible radiance.

Most of the passengers had gone to the cabins and saloons. A few of
them, however, bolder than the rest, were walking up and down the deck
or else dozing under thick rugs in the big rocking-chairs. Here and
there the gleam showed of a cigar; and, mingling with the gentle breath
of the wind, came the murmur of voices that dared not rise high in the
great solemn silence.

One of the passengers, who was walking to and fro with even strides,
stopped beside a person stretched out on a bench, looked at her and,
when she moved slightly, said:

"I thought you were asleep, Mlle. Alice."

"No, Mr. Shears, I do not feel sleepy. I was thinking."

"What of? Is it indiscreet to ask?"

"I was thinking of Mme. d'Imblevalle. How sad she must be! Her life is
ruined."

"Not at all, not at all," he said, eagerly. "Her fault is not one of
those which can never be forgiven. M. d'Imblevalle will forget that
lapse. Already, when we left, he was looking at her less harshly."

"Perhaps ... but it will take long to forget ... and she is suffering."

"Are you very fond of her?"

"Very. That gave me such strength to smile when I was trembling with
fear, to look you in the face when I wanted to avoid your glance."

"And are you unhappy at leaving her?"

"Most unhappy. I have no relations or friends.... I had only her...."

"You shall have friends," said the Englishman, whom this grief was
upsetting, "I promise you that.... I have connections.... I have much
influence.... I assure you that you will not regret your position...."

"Perhaps, but Mme. d'Imblevalle will not be there...."

They exchanged no more words. Holmlock Shears took two or three more
turns along the deck and then came back and settled down near his
travelling-companion.

The misty curtain lifted and the clouds seemed to part in the sky. Stars
twinkled up above.

Shears took his pipe from the pocket of his Inverness cape, filled it
and struck four matches, one after the other, without succeeding in
lighting it. As he had none left, he rose and said to a gentleman seated
a few steps off:

"Could you oblige me with a light, please?"

The gentleman opened a box of fusees and struck one. A flame blazed up.
By its light, Shears saw Arsène Lupin.

* * * * *

If the Englishman had not given a tiny movement, an almost imperceptible
movement of recoil, Lupin might have thought that his presence on board
was known to him, so great was the mastery which Shears retained over
himself and so natural the ease with which he held out his hand to his
adversary:

"Keeping well, M. Lupin?"

"Bravo!" exclaimed Lupin, from whom this self-command drew a cry of
admiration.

"Bravo?... What for?"

"What for? You see me reappear before you like a ghost, after witnessing
my dive into the Seine, and, from pride, from a miraculous pride which I
will call essentially British, you give not a movement of astonishment,
you utter not a word of surprise! Upon my word, I repeat, bravo! It's
admirable!"

"There's nothing admirable about it. From the way you fell off the boat,
I could see that you fell of your own accord and that you had not been
struck by the sergeant's shot."

"And you went away without knowing what became of me?"

"What became of you? I knew. Five hundred people were commanding the two
banks over a distance of three-quarters of a mile. Once you escaped
death, your capture was certain."

"And yet I'm here!"

"M. Lupin, there are two men in the world of whom nothing can astonish
me: myself first and you next."

* * * * *

Peace was concluded.

If Shears had failed in his undertakings against Arsène Lupin, if Lupin
remained the exceptional enemy whom he must definitely renounce all
attempts to capture, if, in the course of the engagements, Lupin always
preserved his superiority, the Englishman had, nevertheless, thanks to
his formidable tenacity, recovered the Jewish lamp, just as he had
recovered the blue diamond. Perhaps, this time, the result was less
brilliant, especially from the point of view of the public, since Shears
was obliged to suppress the circumstances in which the Jewish lamp had
been discovered and to proclaim that he did not know the culprit's name.
But, as between man and man, between Lupin and Shears, between burglar
and detective, there was, in all fairness, neither victor nor
vanquished. Each of them could lay claim to equal triumphs.

They talked, therefore, like courteous adversaries who have laid down
their arms and who esteem each other at their true worth.

At Shears's request, Lupin described his escape.

"If, indeed," he said, "you can call it an escape. It was so simple! My
friends were on the watch, since we had arranged to meet in order to
fish up the Jewish lamp. And so, after remaining a good half-hour under
the overturned keel of the boat, I took advantage of a moment when
Folenfant and his men were looking for my corpse along the banks and I
climbed on to the wreck again. My friends had only to pick me up in
their motor-boat and to dash off before the astounded eyes of the five
hundred sightseers, Ganimard and Folenfant."

"Very pretty!" cried Shears. "Most successful! And now have you business
in England?"

"Yes, a few accounts to settle.... But I was forgetting....
M. d'Imblevalle...?"

"He knows all."

"Ah, my dear maître, what did I tell you? The harm's done now, beyond
repair. Would it not have been better to let me go to work in my own
way? A day or two more and I should have recovered the Jewish lamp and
the other things from Bresson and sent them back to the d'Imblevalles;
and those two good people would have gone on living peacefully together.
Instead of which...."

"Instead of which," snarled Shears, "I have muddled everything up and
brought discord into a family which you were protecting."

"Well, yes, if you like, protecting! Is it indispensable that one should
always steal, cheat and do harm?"

"So you do good also?"

"When I have time. Besides, it amuses me. I think it extremely funny
that, in the present adventure, I should be the good genius who rescues
and saves and you the wicked genius who brings despair and tears."

"Certainly! The d'Imblevalle home is broken up and Alice Demun is
weeping."

"She could not have remained.... Ganimard would have ended by
discovering her ... and through her they would have worked back to
Mme. d'Imblevalle."

"Quite of your opinion, maître; but whose fault was it?"

* * * * *

Two men passed in front of them. Shears said to Lupin, in a voice the
tone of which seemed a little altered:

"Do you know who those two gentlemen are?"

"I think one was the captain of the boat."

"And the other?"

"I don't know."

"It is Mr. Austin Gilett. And Mr. Austin Gilett occupies in England a
post which corresponds with that of your M. Dudouis."

"Oh, what luck! Would you have the kindness to introduce me? M. Dudouis
is a great friend of mine and I should like to be able to say as much of
Mr. Austin Gilett."

The two gentlemen reappeared.

"And, suppose I were to take you at your word, M. Lupin...?" said
Shears, rising.

He had seized Arsène Lupin's wrist and held it in a grip of steel.

"Why grip me so hard, maître? I am quite ready to go with you."

He allowed himself, in fact, to be dragged along, without the least
resistance. The two gentlemen were walking away from them.

Shears increased his pace. His nails dug into Lupin's very flesh.

"Come along, come along!" he said, under his breath, in a sort of
fevered haste to settle everything as quickly as possible. "Come along!
Quick!"

But he stopped short: Alice Demun had followed them.

"What are you doing, mademoiselle? You need not trouble to come!"

It was Lupin who replied:

"I beg you to observe, maître, that mademoiselle is not coming of her
own free will. I am holding her wrist with an energy similar to that
which you are applying to mine."

"And why?"

"Why? Well, I am bent upon introducing her also. Her part in the story
of the Jewish Lamp is even more important than mine. As an accomplice of
Arsène Lupin, and of Bresson as well, she too must tell the adventure of
the Baronne d'Imblevalle ... which is sure to interest the police
immensely. And in this way you will have pushed your kind interference
to its last limits, O generous Shears!"

The Englishman had released his prisoner's wrist. Lupin let go of
mademoiselle's.

They stood, for a few seconds, without moving, looking at one another.
Then Shears went back to his bench and sat down. Lupin and the girl
resumed their places.

* * * * *

A long silence divided them. Then Lupin said:

"You see, maître, do what we may, we shall never be in the same camp.
You will always be on one side of the ditch, I on the other. We can nod,
shake hands, exchange a word or two; but the ditch is always there. You
will always be, Holmlock Shears, detective, and I Arsène Lupin, burglar.
And Holmlock Shears will always, more or less spontaneously, more or
less seasonably, obey his instinct as a detective, which is to hound
down the burglar and 'run him in' if possible. And Arsène Lupin will
always be consistent with his burglar's soul in avoiding the grasp of
the detective and laughing at him if he can. And, this time, he can! Ha,
ha, ha!"

He burst into a cunning, cruel and detestable laugh.... Then, suddenly
becoming serious, he leaned toward the girl:

"Be sure, mademoiselle, that, though reduced to the last extremity, I
would not have betrayed you. Arsène Lupin never betrays, especially
those whom he likes and admires. And you must permit me to say that I
like and admire the dear, plucky creature that you are."

He took a visiting-card from his pocketbook, tore it in two, gave
one-half to the girl and, in a touched and respectful voice:

"If Mr. Shears does not succeed in his steps, mademoiselle, pray go to
Lady Strongborough, whose address you can easily find out, hand her this
half-card and say, 'Faithful memories!' Lady Strongborough will show you
the devotion of a sister."

"Thank you," said the girl, "I will go to her to-morrow."

"And now, maître," cried Lupin, in the satisfied tone of a man who has
done his duty, "let me bid you good night. The mist has delayed us and
there is still time to take forty winks." He stretched himself at full
length and crossed his hands behind his head.

* * * * *

The sky had opened before the moon. She shed her radiant brightness
around the stars and over the sea. It floated upon the water; and space,
in which the last mists were dissolving, seemed to belong to it.

The line of the coast stood out against the dark horizon. Passengers
came up on deck, which was now covered with people. Mr. Austin Gilett
passed in the company of two men whom Shears recognized as members of
the English detective-force.

On his bench, Lupin slept....



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