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Crozon. The countess herself answered.

"Hullo!... Is that you, madame?"

"Is that Mr. Shears? How are things going?"

"Very well. But tell me, quickly.... Hullo! Are you there?..."

"Yes...."

"When was the Château de Crozon built?"

"It was burnt down thirty years ago and rebuilt."

"By whom? And in what year?"

"There's an inscription over the front door: _'Lucien Destange,
architect_, 1877.'"

"Thank you, madame. Good-bye."

"Good-bye."

He went away, muttering:

"Destange.... Lucien Destange.... I seem to know the name...."

He found a public library, consulted a modern biographical dictionary
and copied out the reference to "Lucien Destange, born 1840, Grand-Prix
de Rome, officer of the Legion of Honour, author of several valuable
works on architecture," etc.

He next went to the chemist's and, from there, to the hospital to which
Wilson had been moved. Old chap was lying on his bed of pain, with his
arm in splints, shivering with fever and slightly delirious.

"Victory! Victory!" cried Shears. "I have one end of the clue."

"What clue?"

"The clue that will lead me to success. I am now treading firm soil,
where I shall find marks and indications...."

"Cigarette-ashes?" asked Wilson, whom the interest of the situation was
reviving.

"And plenty of other things! Just think, Wilson, I have discovered the
mysterious link that connects the three adventures of the blonde lady.
Why were the three houses in which the three adventures took place
selected by Arsène Lupin?"

"Yes, why?"

"Because those three houses, Wilson, were built by the same architect.
It was easy to guess that, you say? Certainly it was.... And that's why
nobody thought of it."

"Nobody except yourself."

"Just so! And I now understand how the same architect, by contriving
similar plans, enabled three actions to be performed which appeared to
be miraculous, though they were really quite easy and simple."

"What luck!"

"It was high time, old chap, for I was beginning to lose patience....
This is the fourth day."

"Out of ten."

"Oh, but from now onward...!"

He could no longer keep his seat, exulting in his gladness beyond his
wont:

"Oh, when I think that, just now, in the street, those ruffians might
have broken my arm as well as yours! What do you say to that, Wilson?"

Wilson simply shuddered at the horrid thought.

And Shears continued:

"Let this be a lesson to us! You see, Wilson, our great mistake has been
to fight Lupin in the open and to expose ourselves, in the most obliging
way, to his attacks. The thing is not as bad as it might be, because he
only got at you...."

"And I came off with a broken arm," moaned Wilson.

"Whereas it might have been both of us. But no more swaggering. Watched,
in broad daylight, I am beaten. Working freely, in the shade, I have
the advantage, whatever the enemy's strength may be."

"Ganimard might be able to help you."

"Never! On the day when I can say, 'Arsène Lupin is there; that is his
hiding-place; this is how you must set to work to catch him,' I shall
hunt up Ganimard at one of the two addresses he gave me, his flat in the
Rue Pergolèse, or the Taverne Suisse, on the Place du Châtelet. But till
then I shall act alone."

He went up to the bed, put his hand on Wilson's shoulder - the bad
shoulder, of course - and said, in a very affectionate voice:

"Take care of yourself, old chap. Your task, henceforth, will consist in
keeping two or three of Lupin's men busy. They will waste their time
waiting for me to come and inquire after you. It's a confidential task."

"Thank you ever so much," replied Wilson, gratefully. "I shall do my
best to perform it conscientiously. So you are not coming back?"

"Why should I?" asked Shears, coldly.

"No ... you're quite right ... you're quite right.... I'm going on as
well as can be expected. You might do one thing for me, Holmlock: give
me a drink."

"A drink?"

"Yes, I'm parched with thirst; and this fever of mine...."

"Why, of course! Wait a minute."

He fumbled about among some bottles, came upon a packet of tobacco,
filled and lit his pipe and, suddenly, as though he had not even heard
his friend's request, walked away, while old chap cast longing glances
at the water-bottle beyond his reach.

* * * * *

"Is M. Destange at home?"

The butler eyed the person to whom he had opened the door of the
house - the magnificent house at the corner of the Place Malesherbes and
the Rue Montchanin - and, at the sight of the little gray-haired,
ill-shaven man, whose long and far from immaculate frock-coat matched
the oddity of a figure to which nature had been anything but kind,
replied, with due scorn:

"M. Destange may be at home or he may be out. It depends. Has monsieur a
card?"

Monsieur had no card, but he carried a letter of introduction and the
butler had to take it to M. Destange, whereupon M. Destange ordered the
newcomer to be shown in.

He was ushered into a large circular room, which occupied one of the
wings of the house and which was lined with books all round the walls.

"Are you M. Stickmann?" asked the architect.

"Yes, sir."

"My secretary writes that he is ill and sends you to continue the
general catalogue of my books, which he began under my direction, and of
the German books in particular. Have you any experience of this sort of
work?"

"Yes, sir, a long experience," replied Stickmann, in a strong Teutonic
accent.

In these conditions, the matter was soon settled; and M. Destange set to
work with his new secretary without further delay.

Holmlock Shears had carried the citadel.

In order to escape Lupin's observation and to obtain an entrance into
the house which Lucien Destange occupied with his daughter Clotilde, the
illustrious detective had been obliged to take a leap in the dark, to
resort to untold stratagems, to win the favour and confidence of a host
of people under endless different names, in short, to lead forty-eight
hours of the most complex life.

The particulars which he had gathered were these: M. Destange, who was
in failing health and anxious for rest, had retired from business and
was living among the architectural books which it had been his hobby to
collect. He had no interest left in life beyond the handling and
examining of those old dusty volumes.

As for his daughter Clotilde, she was looked upon as eccentric. She
spent her days, like her father, in the house, but in another part of
it, and never went out.

"This is all," thought Shears, as he wrote down the titles of the books
in his catalogue, to M. Destange's dictation, "this is all more or less
indefinite; but it is a good step forward. I am bound to discover the
solution of one at least of these exciting problems: is M. Destange an
accomplice of Arsène Lupin's? Does he see him now? Are there any papers
relating to the building of the three houses? Will these papers supply
me with the address of other properties, similarly faked, which Lupin
may have reserved for his own use and that of his gang?"

M. Destange an accomplice of Arsène Lupin's! This venerable man, an
officer of the Legion of Honour, working hand in hand with a burglar!
The presumption was hardly tenable. Besides, supposing that they were
accomplices, how did M. Destange come to provide for Arsène Lupin's
various escapes thirty years before they occurred, at a time when Arsène
was in his cradle?

No matter, the Englishman stuck to his guns. With his prodigious
intuition, with that instinct which is all his own, he felt a mystery
surrounding him. This was perceptible by small signs, which he could not
have described with precision, but which impressed him from the moment
when he first set foot in the house.

On the morning of the second day, he had as yet discovered nothing of
interest. He first saw Clotilde Destange at two o'clock, when she came
to fetch a book from the library. She was a woman of thirty, dark, with
slow and silent movements; and her features bore the look of
indifference of those who live much within themselves. She exchanged a
few words with M. Destange and left the room without so much as glancing
at Shears.

The afternoon dragged on monotonously. At five o'clock, M. Destange
stated that he was going out. Shears remained alone in the circular
gallery that ran round the library, half-way between floor and ceiling.
It was growing dark and he was preparing to leave, in his turn, when he
heard a creaking sound and, at the same time, felt that there was some
one in the room. Minute followed slowly upon minute. And, suddenly, he
started: a shadow had emerged from the semidarkness, quite close to him,
on the balcony. Was it credible? How long had this unseen person been
keeping him company? And where did he come from?

And the man went down the steps and turned in the direction of a large
oak cupboard. Crouching on his knees behind the tapestry that covered
the rail of the gallery, Shears watched and saw the man rummage among
the papers with which the cupboard was crammed. What was he looking for?

And, suddenly, the door opened and Mlle. Destange entered quickly,
saying to some one behind her:

"So you have quite changed your mind about going out, father?... In that
case, I'll turn on the light.... Wait a minute ... don't move."

* * * * *

The man closed the doors of the cupboard and hid himself in the
embrasure of a broad window, drawing the curtains in front of him. How
was it that Mlle. Destange did not see him! How was it that she did not
hear him? She calmly switched on the electric light and stood back for
her father to pass.

They sat down side by side. Mlle. Destange opened a book which she had
brought with her and began to read.

"Has your secretary gone?" she said, presently.

"Yes ... so it seems...."

"Are you still satisfied with him?" she continued, as if in ignorance of
the real secretary's illness and of the arrival of Stickmann in his
stead.

"Quite ... quite...."

M. Destange's head dropped on his chest. He fell asleep.

A moment elapsed. The girl went on reading. But one of the window
curtains was moved aside and the man slipped along the wall, toward the
door, an action which made him pass behind M. Destange, but right in
front of Clotilde and in such a way that Shears was able to see him
plainly. It was Arsène Lupin!

The Englishman quivered with delight. His calculations were correct, he
had penetrated to the very heart of the mystery and Lupin was where he
had expected to find him.

Clotilde, however, did not stir, although it was impossible that a
single movement of that man had escaped her. And Lupin was close to the
door and had his arm stretched toward the handle, when his clothes
grazed a table and something fell to the ground. M. Destange woke with a
start. In a moment, Arsène Lupin was standing before him, smiling, hat
in hand.

"Maxime Bermond!" cried M. Destange, in delight. "My dear Maxime!...
What stroke of good luck brings you here to-day?"

"The wish to see you and Mlle. Destange."

"When did you come back?"

"Yesterday."

"Are you staying to dinner?"

"Thank you, no, I am dining out with some friends."

"Come to-morrow, then. Clotilde, make him come to-morrow. My dear
Maxime!... I was thinking of you only the other day."

"Really?"

"Yes, I was arranging my old papers, in that cupboard, and I came across
our last account."

"Which one?"

"The Avenue Henri-Martin account."

"Do you mean to say you keep all that waste paper? What for?"

The three moved into a little drawing-room which was connected with the
round library by a wide recess.

"Is it Lupin?" thought Shears, seized with a sudden doubt.

All the evidence pointed to him, but it was another man as well; a man
who resembled Arsène Lupin in certain respects and who, nevertheless,
preserved his distinct individuality, his own features, look and
complexion.

Dressed for the evening, with a white tie and a soft-fronted shirt
following the lines of his body, he talked gaily, telling stories which
made M. Destange laugh aloud and which brought a smile to Clotilde's
lips. And each of these smiles seemed a reward which Arsène Lupin
coveted and which he rejoiced at having won. His spirits and gaiety
increased and, imperceptibly, at the sound of his clear and happy voice,
Clotilde's face brightened up and lost the look of coldness that tended
to spoil it.

"They are in love," thought Shears. "But what on earth can Clotilde
Destange and Maxime Bermond have in common? Does she know that Maxime is
Arsène Lupin?"

He listened anxiously until seven o'clock, making the most of every word
spoken. Then, with infinite precautions, he came down and crossed the
side of the room where there was no danger of his being seen from the
drawing-room.

* * * * *

Once outside, after assuring himself that there was no motor-car or cab
waiting, he limped away along the Boulevard Malesherbes. Then he turned
down a side street, put on the overcoat which he carried over his arm,
changed the shape of his hat, drew himself up and, thus transformed,
returned to the square, where he waited, with his eyes fixed on the door
of the Hôtel Destange.

Arsène Lupin came out almost at once and walked, down the Rue de
Constantinople and the Rue de Londres, toward the centre of the town.
Shears followed him at a hundred yards' distance.

It was a delicious moment for the Englishman. He sniffed the air
greedily, like a good hound scenting a fresh trail. It really seemed
infinitely sweet to him to be following his adversary. It was no longer
he that was watched, but Arsène Lupin, the invisible Arsène Lupin. He
kept him, so to speak, fastened at the end of his eyes, as though with
unbreakable bonds. And he revelled in contemplating, among the other
pedestrians, this prey which belonged to him.

But a curious incident soon struck him: in the centre of the space that
separated Arsène Lupin and himself, other people were going in the same
direction, notably two tall fellows in bowler hats on the left pavement,
while two others, in caps, were following on the right pavement, smoking
cigarettes as they went.

This might be only a coincidence. But Shears was more surprised when the
four men stopped as Lupin entered a tobacconist's shop; and still more
when they started again as he came out, but separately, each keeping to
his own side of the Chaussée d'Antin.

"Confound it!" thought Shears. "He's being shadowed!"

The idea that others were on Arsène Lupin's track, that others might rob
him not of the glory - he cared little for that - but of the huge
pleasure, the intense delight of conquering unaided the most formidable
enemy that he had ever encountered: this idea exasperated him. And yet
there was no possibility of a mistake: the men wore that look of
detachment, that too-natural look which distinguishes persons who, while
regulating their gait by another's, endeavour to remain unobserved.

"Does Ganimard know more than he pretends?" muttered Shears. "Is he
making game of me?"

He felt inclined to accost one of the four men, with a view to acting in
concert with him. But as they approached the boulevard, the crowd became
denser: he was afraid of losing Lupin and quickened his pace. He turned
into the boulevard just as Lupin had his foot on the step of the
Restaurant Hongrois, at the corner of the Rue du Helder. The door was
open and Shears, sitting on a bench on the boulevard, on the opposite
side of the road, saw him take his seat at a table laid with the
greatest luxury and decorated with flowers, where he was warmly welcomed
by three men in evening clothes and two beautifully-dressed ladies who
had been waiting for him.

Shears looked for the four rough fellows and saw them scattered among
the groups of people who were listening to the Bohemian band of the
neighbouring café. Strange to say, they appeared to be not nearly so
much interested in Arsène Lupin as in the people surrounding them.

Suddenly, one of them took a cigarette from his case and addressed a
gentleman in a frock-coat and tall hat. The gentleman offered a light
from his cigar and Shears received the impression that they were talking
at greater length than the mere lighting of a cigarette demanded. At
last the gentleman went up the steps and glanced into the restaurant.
Seeing Lupin, he walked up to him, exchanged a few words with him and
selected a table close at hand; and Shears realized that he was none
other than the horseman of the Avenue Henri-Martin.

Now he understood. Not only was Arsène not being shadowed, but these men
were members of his gang! These men were watching over his safety! They
were his bodyguard, his satellites, his vigilant escort. Wherever the
master ran any danger, there his accomplices were, ready to warn him,
ready to defend him. The four men were accomplices! The gentleman in the
frock-coat was an accomplice!

A thrill passed through the Englishman's frame. Would he ever succeed in
laying hands on that inaccessible person? The power represented by an
association of this kind, ruled by such a chief, seemed boundless.

He tore a leaf from his note-book, wrote a few lines in pencil, put the
note in an envelope and gave it to a boy of fifteen who had lain down on
the bench beside him:

"Here, my lad, take a cab and give this letter to the young lady behind
the bar at the Taverne Suisse on the Place du Châtelet. Be as quick as
you can."

He handed him a five-franc piece. The boy went off.

* * * * *

Half an hour elapsed. The crowd had increased and Shears but
occasionally caught sight of Lupin's followers. Then some one grazed
against him and a voice said in his ear:

"Well, Mr. Shears, what can I do for you?"

"Is that you, M. Ganimard?"

"Yes; I got your note. What is it?"

"He's there."

"What's that you say?"

"Over there ... inside the restaurant.... Move a little to the right....
Do you see him?"

"No."

"He is filling the glass of the lady on his left."

"But that's not Lupin."

"Yes, it is."

"I assure you.... And yet.... Well, it may be.... Oh, the rascal, _how
like himself he is!_" muttered Ganimard, innocently. "And who are the
others? Accomplices?"

"No, the lady beside him is Lady Cliveden. The other is the Duchess of
Cleath; and, opposite her, is the Spanish Ambassador in London."

Ganimard took a step toward the road. But Shears held him back:

"Don't be so reckless: you are alone."

"So is he."

"No, there are men on the boulevard mounting guard.... Not to mention
that gentleman inside the restaurant...."

"But I have only to take him by the collar and shout his name to have
the whole restaurant on my side, all the waiters...."

"I would rather have a few detectives."

"That would set Lupin's friends off.... No, Mr. Shears, we have no
choice, you see."

He was right and Shears felt it. It was better to make the attempt and
take advantage of the exceptional circumstances. He contented himself
with saying to Ganimard:

"Do your best not to be recognized before you can help it."

He himself slipped behind a newspaper-kiosk, without losing sight of
Arsène Lupin who was leaning over Lady Cliveden, smiling.

The inspector crossed the street, looking straight before him, with his
hands in his pockets. But, the moment he reached the opposite pavement,
he veered briskly round and sprang up the steps.

A shrill whistle sounded.... Ganimard knocked up against the
head-waiter, who suddenly blocked the entrance and pushed him back with
indignation, as he might push back any intruder whose doubtful attire
would have disgraced the luxury of the establishment. Ganimard
staggered. At the same moment, the gentleman in the frock-coat came out.
He took the part of the inspector and began a violent discussion with
the head-waiter. Both of them had hold of Ganimard, one pushing him
forward, the other back, until, in spite of all his efforts and angry
protests, the unhappy man was hustled to the bottom of the steps.

A crowd gathered at once. Two policemen, attracted by the excitement,
tried to make their way through; but they encountered an
incomprehensible resistance and were unable to get clear of the
shoulders that pushed against them, the backs that barred their
progress.

And, suddenly, as though by enchantment, the way was opened!... The
head-waiter, realizing his mistake, made the most abject apologies; the
gentleman in the frock-coat withdrew his assistance; the crowd parted,
the policemen passed in; and Ganimard rushed toward the table with the
six guests.... There were only five left! He looked round: there was no
way out except the door.

"Where is the person who was sitting here?" he shouted to the five
bewildered guests. "Yes, there were six of you.... Where is the sixth?"

"M. Destro?"

"No, no: Arsène Lupin!"

A waiter stepped up:

"The gentleman has just gone up to the mezzanine floor."

Ganimard flew upstairs. The mezzanine floor consisted of private rooms
and had a separate exit to the boulevard!

"It's no use now," groaned Ganimard. "He's far away by this time!"

* * * * *

He was not so very far away, two hundred yards at most, in the omnibus
running between the Bastille and the Madeleine, which lumbered
peacefully along behind its three horses, crossing the Place de l'Opéra
and going down the Boulevard des Capucines. Two tall fellows in bowler
hats stood talking on the conductor's platform. On the top, near the
steps, a little old man sat dozing: it was Holmlock Shears.

And, with his head swaying from side to side, rocked by the movement of
the omnibus, the Englishman soliloquized:

"Ah, if dear old Wilson could see me now, how proud he would be of his
chief!... Pooh, it was easy to foresee, from the moment when the whistle
sounded that the game was up and that there was nothing serious to be
done, except to keep a watch around the restaurant! But that devil of a
man adds a zest to life, and no mistake!"

On reaching the end of the journey, Shears leant over, saw Arsène Lupin
pass out in front of his guards and heard him mutter:

"At the Étoile."

"The Étoile, just so: an assignation. I shall be there. I'll let him go
ahead in that motor-cab, while I follow his two pals in a four-wheeler."

The two pals went off on foot, made for the Étoile and rang at the door
of No 40, Rue Chalgrin, a house with a narrow frontage. Shears found a
hiding place in the shadow of a recess formed by the angle of that
unfrequented little street.

One of the two windows on the ground floor opened and a man in a bowler
hat closed the shutters. The window space above the shutters was lit up.

In ten minutes' time, a gentleman came and rang at the same door; and,
immediately afterward, another person. And, at last, a motor-cab drew up
and Shears saw two people get out: Arsène Lupin and a lady wrapped in a
cloak and a thick veil.

"The blonde lady, I presume," thought Shears, as the cab drove away.

He waited for a moment, went up to the house, climbed on to the
window-ledge and, by standing on tip-toe, succeeded in peering into the
room through that part of the window which the shutters failed to cover.

Arsène Lupin was leaning against the chimney and talking in an animated
fashion. The others stood round and listened attentively. Shears
recognized the gentleman in the frock-coat and thought he recognized the
head-waiter of the restaurant. As for the blonde lady, she was sitting
in a chair, with her back turned toward him.

"They are holding a council," he thought. "This evening's occurrences
have alarmed them and they feel a need to discuss things.... Oh, if I
could only catch them all at one swoop!"

One of the accomplices moved and Shears leapt down and fell back into
the shadow. The gentleman in the frock-coat and the head-waiter left the
house. Then the first floor was lit up and some one closed the
window-shutters. It was now dark above and below.

"He and she have remained on the ground floor," said Holmlock to
himself. "The two accomplices live on the first story."

He waited during a part of the night without stirring from his place,
fearing lest Arsène Lupin should go away during his absence. At four
o'clock in the morning, seeing two policemen at the end of the street,
he went up to them, explained the position and left them to watch the
house.

Then he went to Ganimard's flat in the Rue Pergolèse and told the


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