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servant to wake him.

"I've got him again."

"Arsène Lupin?"

"Yes."

"If you haven't got him any better than you did just now, I may as well
go back to bed. However, let's go and see the commissary."

They went to the Rue Mesnil and, from there, to the house of the
commissary, M. Decointre. Next, accompanied by half a dozen men, they
returned to the Rue Chalgrin.

"Any news?" asked Shears of the two policemen watching the house.

"No, sir; none."

The daylight was beginning to show in the sky when the commissary, after
disposing his men, rang and entered the lodge of the concierge.
Terrified by this intrusion, the woman, all trembling, said that there
was no tenant on the ground floor.

"What do you mean; no tenant?" cried Ganimard.

"No, it's the people on the first floor, two gentlemen called Leroux....
They have furnished the apartment below for some relations from the
country...."

"A lady and gentleman?"

"Yes."

"Did they come with them last night?"

"They may have.... I was asleep.... I don't think so, though, for here's
the key - they didn't ask for it."

With this key, the commissary opened the door on the other side of the
passage. The ground floor flat contained only two rooms: they were
empty.

"Impossible!" said Shears. "I saw them both here."

The commissary grinned:

"I dare say; but they are not here now."

"Let us go to the first floor. They must be there."

"The first floor is occupied by two gentlemen called Leroux."

"We will question the two gentleman called Leroux."

They all went upstairs and the commissary rang. At the second ring, a
man, who was none other than one of the bodyguards, appeared in his
shirt-sleeves and, with a furious air:

"Well, what is it? What's all this noise about; what do you come waking
people up for?"

But he stopped in confusion:

"Lord bless my soul!... Am I dreaming? Why, it's M. Decointre!... And
you too, M. Ganimard? What can I do for you?"

There was a roar of laughter. Ganimard was splitting with a fit of
merriment which doubled him up and seemed to threaten an apoplectic fit:

"It's you, Leroux!" he spluttered out. "Oh, that's the best thing I ever
heard: Leroux, Arsène Lupin's accomplice!... It'll be the death of me, I
know it will!... And where's your brother, Leroux? Is he visible?"

"Are you there, Edmond? It's M. Ganimard come to pay us a visit."

Another man came forward, at the sight of whom Ganimard's hilarity
increased still further:

"Well, I never! Dear, dear me! Ah, my friends, you're in a nice
pickle.... Who would have suspected it? It's a good thing that old
Ganimard keeps his eyes open and still better that he has friends to
help him ... friends who have come all the way from England!"

And, turning to Shears, he said:

"Mr. Shears, let me introduce Victor Leroux, detective-inspector, one of
the best in the iron brigade.... And Edmond Leroux, head-clerk in the
Finger-print Department...."




CHAPTER V

KIDNAPPED


Holmlock Shears restrained his feelings. What was the use of protesting,
of accusing those two men? Short of proofs, which he did not possess and
which he would not waste time in looking for, no one would take his
word.

With nerves on edge and fists tight-clenched, he had but one thought,
that of not betraying his rage and disappointment before the triumphant
Ganimard. He bowed politely to those two mainstays of society, the
brothers Leroux, and went downstairs.

In the hall he turned toward a small, low door, which marked the
entrance to the cellar, and picked up a small red stone: it was a
garnet.

Outside, he looked up and read, close to the number of the house, the
inscription: "_Lucien Destange, architect_, 1877." He saw the same
inscription on No. 42.

"Always that double outlet," he thought. "Nos. 40 and 42 communicate.
Why did I not think of it before? I ought to have stayed with the
policemen all night."

And, addressing them, he said, pointing to the door of the next house:

"Did two people go out by that door while I was away?"

"Yes, sir; a lady and gentleman."

He took the arm of the chief-inspector and led him along:

"M. Ganimard, you have enjoyed too hearty a laugh to be very angry with
me for disturbing you like this ..."

"Oh, I'm not angry with you at all."

"That's right. But the best jokes can't go on forever and I think we
must put an end to this one."

"I am with you."

"This is our seventh day. It is absolutely necessary that I should be in
London in three days hence."

"I say! I say!"

"I shall be there, though, and I beg you to hold yourself in readiness
on Tuesday night."

"For an expedition of the same kind?" asked Ganimard, chaffingly.

"Yes, of the same kind."

"And how will this one end?"

"In Lupin's capture."

"You think so."

"I swear it, on my honour."

Shears took his leave and went to seek a short rest in the nearest
hotel, after which, refreshed and full of confidence, he returned to the
Rue Chalgrin, slipped two louis into the hand of the concierge, made
sure that the brothers Leroux were out, learned that the house belonged
to a certain M. Harmingeat and, carrying a candle, found his way down to
the cellar through the little door near which he had picked up the
garnet.

At the foot of the stairs, he picked up another of exactly the same
shape.

"I was right," he thought. "This forms the communication.... Let's see
if my skeleton-key opens the door of the cellar that belongs to the
ground-floor tenant.... Yes, capital.... Now let's examine these
wine-bins.... Aha, here are places where the dust has been removed ...
and footprints on the floor!..."

A slight sound made him prick up his ears. He quickly closed the door,
blew out his candle and hid behind a stack of empty wine-cases. After a
few seconds, he noticed that one of the iron bins was turning slowly on
a pivot, carrying with it the whole of the piece of wall to which it
was fastened. The light of a lantern was thrown into the cellar. An arm
appeared. A man entered.

He was bent in two, like a man looking for something. He fumbled in the
dust with his finger-tips, and, several times, he straightened himself
and threw something into a cardboard box which he carried in his left
hand. Next, he removed the marks of his footsteps, as well as those left
by Lupin and the blonde lady, and went back to the wine-bin.

He gave a hoarse cry and fell. Shears had leapt upon him. It was the
matter of a moment and, in the simplest way possible, the man found
himself stretched on the floor, with his ankles fastened together and
his wrists bound.

The Englishman stooped over him:

"How much will you take to speak?... To tell what you know?"

The man replied with so sarcastic a smile that Shears understood the
futility of his question. He contented himself with exploring his
captive's pockets, but his investigations produced nothing more than a
bunch of keys, a pocket-handkerchief and the little cardboard box used
by the fellow and containing a dozen garnets similar to those which
Shears had picked up. A poor booty!

Besides, what was he to do with the man? Wait until his friends came to
his assistance and hand them all over to the police? What was the good?
What advantage could he derive from it against Lupin?

He was hesitating, when a glance at the box made him come to a decision.
It bore the address of Léonard, jeweler, Rue de la Paix.

He resolved simply to leave the man where he was. He pushed back the
bin, shut the cellar-door and left the house. He went to a post-office
and telegraphed to M. Destange that he could not come until the next
day. Then he went on to the jeweler and handed him the garnets:

"Madame sent me with these stones. They came off a piece of jewelry
which she bought here."

Shears had hit the nail on the head. The jeweler replied:

"That's right.... The lady telephoned to me. She will call here herself
presently."

* * * * *

It was five o'clock before Shears, standing on the pavement, saw a lady
arrive, wrapped in a thick veil, whose appearance struck him as
suspicious. Through the shop-window he saw her place on the counter an
old-fashioned brooch set with garnets.

She went away almost at once, did a few errands on foot, walked up
toward Clichy and turned down streets which the Englishman did not know.
At nightfall, he followed her, unperceived by the concierge, into a
five-storeyed house built on either side of the doorway and therefore
containing numberless flats. She stopped at a door on the second floor
and went in.

Two minutes later, the Englishman put his luck to the test and, one
after the other, carefully tried the keys on the bunch of which he had
obtained possession. The fourth key fitted the lock.

Through the darkness that filled them, he saw rooms which were
absolutely empty, like those of an unoccupied flat, with all the doors
standing open. But the light of a lamp filtered through from the end of
a passage; and, approaching on tip-toe, through the glass door that
separated the drawing-room from an adjoining bedroom he saw the veiled
lady take off her dress and hat, lay them on the one chair which the
room contained and slip on a velvet tea-gown.

And he also saw her walk up to the chimney-piece and push an electric
bell. And one-half of the panel to the right of the chimney moved from
its position and slipped along the wall into the thickness of the next
panel. As soon as the gap was wide enough, the lady passed through ...
and disappeared, taking the lamp with her.

The system was a simple one. Shears employed it. He found himself
walking in the dark, groping his way; but suddenly his face came upon
something soft. By the light of a match, he saw that he was in a little
closet filled with dresses and clothes hanging from metal bars. He
thrust his way through and stopped before the embrasure of a door closed
by a tapestry hanging or, at least, by the back of a hanging. And, his
match being now burnt out, he saw light piercing through the loose and
worn woof of the old stuff.

Then he looked.

The blonde lady was there, before his eyes, within reach of his hand.

She put out the lamp and turned on the electric switch. For the first
time, Shears saw her face in the full light. He gave a start. The woman
whom he had ended by overtaking after so many shifts and turns was none
other than Clotilde Destange.

* * * * *

Clotilde Destange, the murderess of Baron d'Hautrec and the purloiner of
the blue diamond! Clotilde Destange the mysterious friend of Arsène
Lupin! The blonde lady, in short!

"Why, of course," he thought, "I'm the biggest blockhead that ever
lived! Just because Lupin's friend is fair and Clotilde dark, I never
thought of connecting the two women! As though the blonde lady could
afford to continue fair after the murder of the baron and the theft of
the diamond!"

Shears saw part of the room, an elegant lady's boudoir, adorned with
light hangings and valuable knick-knacks. A mahogany settee stood on a
slightly-raised platform. Clotilde had sat down on it and remained
motionless, with her head between her hands. And soon he noticed that
she was crying. Great tears flowed down her pale cheeks, trickled by her
mouth, fell drop by drop on the velvet of her bodice. And more tears
followed indefinitely, as though springing from an inexhaustible source.
And no sadder sight was ever seen than that dull and resigned despair,
which expressed itself in the slow flowing of the tears.

But a door opened behind her. Arsène Lupin entered.

They looked at each other for a long time, without exchanging a word.
Then he knelt down beside her, pressed his head to her breast, put his
arms round her; and there was infinite tenderness and great pity in the
gesture with which he embraced the girl. They did not move. A soft
silence united them, and her tears flowed less abundantly.

"I so much wanted to make you happy!" he whispered.

"I am happy."

"No, for you're crying. And your tears break my heart, Clotilde."

Yielding, in spite of herself, to the sound of his coaxing voice, she
listened, greedy of hope and happiness. A smile softened her face, but,
oh, so sad a smile! He entreated her:

"Don't be sad, Clotilde; you have no reason, you have no right to be
sad."

She showed him her white, delicate, lissom hands, and said, gravely:

"As long as these hands are mine, Maxime, I shall be sad."

"But why?"

"They have taken life."

Maxime cried:

"Hush, you must not think of that! The past is dead; the past does not
count."

And he kissed her long white hands and she looked at him with a brighter
smile, as though each kiss had wiped out a little of that hideous
memory:

"You must love me, Maxime, you must, because no woman will ever love you
as I do. To please you, I have acted, I am still acting not only
according to your orders, but according to your unspoken wishes. I do
things against which all my instincts and all my conscience revolt; but
I am unable to resist.... All that I do I do mechanically, because it is
of use to you and you wish it ... and I am ready to begin again
to-morrow ... and always."

He said, bitterly:

"Ah, Clotilde, why did I ever mix you up in my adventurous life? I ought
to have remained the Maxime Bermond whom you loved five years ago and
not have let you know ... the other man that I am."

She whispered very low!

"I love that other man too; and I regret nothing."

"Yes, you regret your past life, your life in the light of day."

"I regret nothing, when you are there!" she said, passionately. "There
is no such thing as guilt, no such thing as crime, when my eyes see you.
What do I care if I am unhappy away from you and if I suffer and cry and
loathe all that I do! Your love wipes out everything.... I accept
everything.... But you must love me!"

"I do not love you because I must, Clotilde, but simply because I love
you."

"Are you sure?" she asked, trustingly.

"I am as sure of myself as I am of you. Only, Clotilde, my life is a
violent and feverish one and I cannot always give you as much time as I
should wish."

She at once grew terrified.

"What is it? A fresh danger? Tell me, quick!"

"Oh, nothing serious as yet. Still...."

"Still what...?"

"Well, he is on our track."

"Shears?"

"Yes. It was he who set Ganimard at me at the Restaurant Hongrois. It
was he who posted the two policemen in the Rue Chalgrin last night. The
proof is that Ganimard searched the house this morning and Shears was
with him. Besides...."

"Besides what?"

"Well, there is something more: one of our men is missing, Jeanniot."

"The concierge?"

"Yes."

"Why, I sent him to the Rue Chalgrin this morning to pick up some
garnets which had fallen from my brooch."

"There is no doubt about it, Shears has caught him in a trap."

"Not at all. The garnets were brought to the jeweler in the Rue de la
Paix."

"Then what has become of Jeanniot since?"

"Oh, Maxime, I'm so frightened!"

"There's no cause for alarm. But I admit that the position is very
serious. How much does he know? Where is he hiding? His strength lies in
his isolation. There is nothing to betray him."

"Then what have you decided on?"

"Extreme prudence, Clotilde. Some time ago I made up my mind to move my
things to the refuge you know of, the safe refuge. The intervention of
Shears hastens the need. When a man like Shears is on a trail, we may
take it that he is bound to follow that trail to the end. So I have made
all my preparations. The removal will take place on the day after
to-morrow, Wednesday. It will be finished by midday. By two o'clock I
shall be able myself to leave, after getting rid of the last vestige of
our occupation, which is no small matter. Until then ..."

"Yes...?"

"We must not see each other and no one must see you, Clotilde. Don't go
out. I fear nothing for myself. But I fear everything where you're
concerned."

"It is impossible for that Englishman to get at me."

"Everything is possible to him and I am not easy in my mind. Yesterday,
when I was nearly caught by your father, I had come to search the
cupboard which contains M. Destange's old ledgers. There is danger
there. There is danger everywhere. I feel that the enemy is prowling in
the shade and drawing nearer and nearer. I know that he is watching us
... that he is laying his nets around us. It is one of those intuitions
which never fail me."

"In that case," said she, "go, Maxime, and think no more about my tears.
I shall be brave and I will wait until the danger is over. Good-bye,
Maxime."

She gave him a long kiss. And she herself pushed him outside. Shears
heard the sound of their voices grow fainter in the distance.

Boldly, excited by the need of action, toward and against everything,
which had been stimulating him since the day before, he made his way to
a passage, at the end of which was a staircase. But, just as he was
going down, he heard the sound of a conversation below and thought it
better to follow a circular corridor which brought him to another
staircase. At the foot of this staircase, he was greatly surprised to
see furniture the shape and position of which he already knew. A door
stood half open. He entered a large round room. It was M. Destange's
library.

"Capital! Splendid!" he muttered. "I understand everything now. The
boudoir of Clotilde, that is to say, the blonde lady, communicates with
one of the flats in the next house and the door of that house is not in
the Place Malesherbes, but in an adjoining street, the Rue Montchanin,
if I remember right.... Admirable! And now I see how Clotilde Destange
slips out to meet her sweetheart while keeping up the reputation of a
person who never leaves the house. And I also see how Arsène Lupin
popped out close to me, yesterday evening, in the gallery: there must be
another communication between the flat next door and this library...."
And he concluded, "Another faked house. Once again, no doubt, 'Destange,
architect!' And what I must now do is to take advantage of my presence
here to examine the contents of the cupboard ... and obtain all the
information I can about the other faked houses."

Shears went up to the gallery and hid behind the hangings of the rail.
He stayed there till the end of the evening. A man-servant came to put
out the electric lights. An hour later, the Englishman pressed the
spring of his lantern and went down to the cupboard. As he knew, it
contained the architect's old papers, files, plans, estimates and
account-books. At the back stood a row of ledgers, arranged in
chronological order.

He took down the more recent volumes one by one and at once looked
through the index-pages, more particularly under the letter H. At last,
finding the word "Harmingeat" followed by the number 63, he turned up
page 63 and read:

"Harmingeat, 40, Rue Chalgrin."

There followed a detailed statement of works executed for this customer,
with a view to the installation of a central heating-apparatus in his
property. And in the margin was this note:

"See file M. B."

"I knew it," muttered Shears. "File M. B. is the one I want. When I have
been through that, I shall know the whereabouts of M. Lupin's present
abode."

The small hours had struck before he found file M. B. It consisted of
fifteen pages. One was a copy of the page concerning M. Harmingeat of
the Rue Chalgrin. Another contained a detailed account of works executed
for M. Vatinel, the owner of 25, Rue Clapeyron. A third was devoted to
Baron d'Hautrec, 134, Avenue Henri-Martin; a fourth to the Château de
Crozon; and the eleven others to different Paris landlords.

Shears took down the list of eleven names and addresses and then
restored the papers to their place, opened a window and jumped out into
the deserted square, taking care to close the shutters behind him.

On reaching his room at the hotel, he lit his pipe with the gravity
which he always applied to that ceremony and, enveloped in clouds of
smoke, studied the conclusions to be drawn from file M. B., or, to be
more exact, the file devoted to Maxime Bermond, _alias_ Arsène Lupin.

At eight o'clock, he sent Ganimard an express letter:

"I shall probably call on you in the Rue Pergolèse this morning
and place in your charge a person whose capture is of the
highest importance. In any case, stay at home to-night and until
twelve o'clock to-morrow, Wednesday, morning; and arrange to
have thirty men at your disposal."

Then he went down the boulevard, picked out a motor-cab with a driver
whose good-humoured but unintelligent face took his fancy and drove to
the Place Malesherbes, fifty yards beyond the Hôtel Destange.

"Close the hood, my man," he said, to the driver, "turn up the collar of
your fur, for it's a cold wind, and wait for me patiently. Start your
engine in an hour and a half from now. The moment I get in again, drive
straight to the Rue Pergolèse."

With his foot on the doorstep of the house, he had a last moment of
hesitation. Was it not a mistake to take so much trouble about the
blonde lady, when Lupin was completing his preparations for departure?
And would he not have done better, with the aid of his list of houses,
to begin by finding out where his adversary lived?

"Pooh!" he said. "When the blonde lady is my prisoner, I shall be master
of the situation."

And he rang the bell.

* * * * *

He found M. Destange waiting in the library. They worked together for a
little while and Shears was seeking a pretext to go up to Clotilde's
room, when the girl entered, said good-morning to her father, sat down
in the little drawing-room and began to write letters.

From where he was sitting, Shears could see her as she bent over the
table and, from time to time, meditated with poised pen and a thoughtful
face. He waited and then, taking up a volume, said to M. Destange:

"Oh, this is the book which Mlle. Destange asked me to give her when I
found it."

He went into the little room, stood in front of Clotilde, in such a way
that her father could not see her, and said:

"I am M. Stickmann, M. Destange's new secretary."

"Oh?" she said, without moving. "Has my father changed his secretary?"

"Yes, mademoiselle, and I should like to speak to you."

"Take a seat, monsieur; I have just finished."

She added a few words to her letter, signed it, sealed the envelope,
pushed back her papers, took up the telephone, asked to be put on to her
dressmaker, begged her to hurry on a travelling-cloak which she needed
urgently and then, turning to Shears:

"I am at your service, monsieur. But cannot our conversation take place
before my father?"

"No, mademoiselle, and I will even entreat you not to raise your voice.
It would be better that M. Destange should not hear us."

"Better for whom?"

"For you, mademoiselle."

"I will not permit a conversation which my father cannot hear."

"And yet you must permit this one."

They both rose, with their eyes fixed on each other. And she said:

"Speak, monsieur."

Still standing, he began:

"You must forgive me if I am inaccurate in a few less important
particulars. I will vouch for the general correctness of what I am going
to say."

"No speeches, I beg. Facts."

He felt, from this abrupt interruption, that the girl was on her guard
and he continued:

"Very well, I will come straight to the point. Five years ago, your
father happened to meet a M. Maxime Bermond, who introduced himself
as a contractor ... or an architect, I am not sure which. In any case,
M. Destange took a liking to this young man and, as the state of his
health no longer allowed him to attend to his business, he entrusted
to M. Bermond the execution of a few orders which he had accepted to
please some old customers and which appeared to him to come within
the scope of his assistant's capacity."

Shears stopped. It seemed to him that the girl had grown paler. Still,
she answered with the greatest calmness.

"I know nothing of the things about which you are talking, monsieur, and
I am quite unable to see how they can interest me."

"They interest you in so far, mademoiselle, that M. Maxime Bermond's
real name, which you know as well as I do, is Arsène Lupin."

She burst out laughing:

"Nonsense! Arsène Lupin? M. Maxime Bermond's name is Arsène Lupin?"

"As I have the honour to inform you, mademoiselle, and, since you refuse
to understand me unless I speak plainly, I will add that Arsène Lupin,


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