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occasion: "I no longer know who I am. I cannot recognize myself in the
mirror." Certainly, he was a great actor, and possessed a marvelous
faculty for disguising himself. Without the slightest effort, he could
adopt the voice, gestures and mannerisms of another person.

"Why," said he, "why should I retain a definite form and feature? Why
not avoid the danger of a personality that is ever the same? My actions
will serve to identify me."

Then he added, with a touch of pride:

"So much the better if no one can ever say with absolute certainty:
There is Arsène Lupin! The essential point is that the public may be
able to refer to my work and say, without fear of mistake: Arsène Lupin
did that!"




II. Arsène Lupin in Prison


There is no tourist worthy of the name who does not know the banks of
the Seine, and has not noticed, in passing, the little feudal castle of
the Malaquis, built upon a rock in the centre of the river. An arched
bridge connects it with the shore. All around it, the calm waters of the
great river play peacefully amongst the reeds, and the wagtails flutter
over the moist crests of the stones.

The history of the Malaquis castle is stormy like its name, harsh like
its outlines. It has passed through a long series of combats, sieges,
assaults, rapines and massacres. A recital of the crimes that have been
committed there would cause the stoutest heart to tremble. There are
many mysterious legends connected with the castle, and they tell us of
a famous subterranean tunnel that formerly led to the abbey of Jumieges
and to the manor of Agnes Sorel, mistress of Charles VII.

In that ancient habitation of heroes and brigands, the Baron Nathan
Cahorn now lived; or Baron Satan as he was formerly called on the
Bourse, where he had acquired a fortune with incredible rapidity. The
lords of Malaquis, absolutely ruined, had been obliged to sell
the ancient castle at a great sacrifice. It contained an admirable
collection of furniture, pictures, wood carvings, and faience. The Baron
lived there alone, attended by three old servants. No one ever enters
the place. No one had ever beheld the three Rubens that he possessed,
his two Watteau, his Jean Goujon pulpit, and the many other treasures
that he had acquired by a vast expenditure of money at public sales.

Baron Satan lived in constant fear, not for himself, but for the
treasures that he had accumulated with such an earnest devotion and with
so much perspicacity that the shrewdest merchant could not say that
the Baron had ever erred in his taste or judgment. He loved them - his
bibelots. He loved them intensely, like a miser; jealously, like a
lover. Every day, at sunset, the iron gates at either end of the bridge
and at the entrance to the court of honor are closed and barred. At
the least touch on these gates, electric bells will ring throughout the
castle.

One Thursday in September, a letter-carrier presented himself at the
gate at the head of the bridge, and, as usual, it was the Baron himself
who partially opened the heavy portal. He scrutinized the man as
minutely as if he were a stranger, although the honest face and
twinkling eyes of the postman had been familiar to the Baron for many
years. The man laughed, as he said:

"It is only I, Monsieur le Baron. It is not another man wearing my cap
and blouse."

"One can never tell," muttered the Baron.

The man handed him a number of newspapers, and then said:

"And now, Monsieur le Baron, here is something new."

"Something new?"

"Yes, a letter. A registered letter."

Living as a recluse, without friends or business relations, the baron
never received any letters, and the one now presented to him immediately
aroused within him a feeling of suspicion and distrust. It was like an
evil omen. Who was this mysterious correspondent that dared to disturb
the tranquility of his retreat?

"You must sign for it, Monsieur le Baron."

He signed; then took the letter, waited until the postman had
disappeared beyond the bend in the road, and, after walking nervously to
and fro for a few minutes, he leaned against the parapet of the bridge
and opened the envelope. It contained a sheet of paper, bearing this
heading: Prison de la Santé, Paris. He looked at the signature: Arsène
Lupin. Then he read:

"Monsieur le Baron:

"There is, in the gallery in your castle, a picture of Philippe
de Champaigne, of exquisite finish, which pleases me beyond
measure. Your Rubens are also to my taste, as well as your
smallest Watteau. In the salon to the right, I have noticed the
Louis XIII cadence-table, the tapestries of Beauvais, the Empire
gueridon signed `Jacob,' and the Renaissance chest. In the salon
to the left, all the cabinet full of jewels and miniatures.

"For the present, I will content myself with those articles that
can be conveniently removed. I will therefore ask you to pack
them carefully and ship them to me, charges prepaid, to the
station at Batignolles, within eight days, otherwise I shall be
obliged to remove them myself during the night of 27 September;
but, under those circumstances, I shall not content myself with
the articles above mentioned.

"Accept my apologies for any inconvenience I may cause you, and
believe me to be your humble servant,

"Arsène Lupin."

"P. S. - Please do not send the largest Watteau. Although you
paid thirty thousand francs for it, it is only a copy, the
original having been burned, under the Directoire by Barras,
during a night of debauchery. Consult the memoirs of Garat.

"I do not care for the Louis XV chatelaine, as I doubt its
authenticity."

That letter completely upset the baron. Had it borne any other
signature, he would have been greatly alarmed - but signed by Arsène
Lupin!

As an habitual reader of the newspapers, he was versed in the history
of recent crimes, and was therefore well acquainted with the exploits of
the mysterious burglar. Of course, he knew that Lupin had been arrested
in America by his enemy Ganimard and was at present incarcerated in the
Prison de la Santé. But he knew also that any miracle might be expected
from Arsène Lupin. Moreover, that exact knowledge of the castle, the
location of the pictures and furniture, gave the affair an alarming
aspect. How could he have acquired that information concerning things
that no one had ever seen?

The baron raised his eyes and contemplated the stern outlines of the
castle, its steep rocky pedestal, the depth of the surrounding water,
and shrugged his shoulders. Certainly, there was no danger. No one in
the world could force an entrance to the sanctuary that contained his
priceless treasures.

No one, perhaps, but Arsène Lupin! For him, gates, walls and drawbridges
did not exist. What use were the most formidable obstacles or the most
careful precautions, if Arsène Lupin had decided to effect an entrance?

That evening, he wrote to the Procurer of the Republique at Rouen. He
enclosed the threatening letter and solicited aid and protection.

The reply came at once to the effect that Arsène Lupin was in custody in
the Prison de la Santé, under close surveillance, with no opportunity
to write such a letter, which was, no doubt, the work of some imposter.
But, as an act of precaution, the Procurer had submitted the letter
to an expert in handwriting, who declared that, in spite of certain
resemblances, the writing was not that of the prisoner.

But the words "in spite of certain resemblances" caught the attention of
the baron; in them, he read the possibility of a doubt which appeared to
him quite sufficient to warrant the intervention of the law. His fears
increased. He read Lupin's letter over and over again. "I shall be
obliged to remove them myself." And then there was the fixed date: the
night of 27 September.

To confide in his servants was a proceeding repugnant to his nature; but
now, for the first time in many years, he experienced the necessity of
seeking counsel with some one. Abandoned by the legal official of
his own district, and feeling unable to defend himself with his own
resources, he was on the point of going to Paris to engage the services
of a detective.

Two days passed; on the third day, he was filled with hope and joy as
he read the following item in the `Reveil de Caudebec', a newspaper
published in a neighboring town:

"We have the pleasure of entertaining in our city, at the present time,
the veteran detective Mon. Ganimard who acquired a world-wide reputation
by his clever capture of Arsène Lupin. He has come here for rest and
recreation, and, being an enthusiastic fisherman, he threatens to
capture all the fish in our river."

Ganimard! Ah, here is the assistance desired by Baron Cahorn! Who could
baffle the schemes of Arsène Lupin better than Ganimard, the patient and
astute detective? He was the man for the place.

The baron did not hesitate. The town of Caudebec was only six kilometers
from the castle, a short distance to a man whose step was accelerated by
the hope of safety.

After several fruitless attempts to ascertain the detective's address,
the baron visited the office of the `Reveil,' situated on the quai.
There he found the writer of the article who, approaching the window,
exclaimed:

"Ganimard? Why, you are sure to see him somewhere on the quai with his
fishing-pole. I met him there and chanced to read his name engraved on
his rod. Ah, there he is now, under the trees."

"That little man, wearing a straw hat?"

"Exactly. He is a gruff fellow, with little to say."

Five minutes later, the baron approached the celebrated Ganimard,
introduced himself, and sought to commence a conversation, but that
was a failure. Then he broached the real object of his interview,
and briefly stated his case. The other listened, motionless, with his
attention riveted on his fishing-rod. When the baron had finished his
story, the fisherman turned, with an air of profound pity, and said:

"Monsieur, it is not customary for thieves to warn people they are about
to rob. Arsène Lupin, especially, would not commit such a folly."

"But - -"

"Monsieur, if I had the least doubt, believe me, the pleasure of
again capturing Arsène Lupin would place me at your disposal. But,
unfortunately, that young man is already under lock and key."

"He may have escaped."

"No one ever escaped from the Santé."

"But, he - -"

"He, no more than any other."

"Yet - -"

"Well, if he escapes, so much the better. I will catch him again.
Meanwhile, you go home and sleep soundly. That will do for the present.
You frighten the fish."

The conversation was ended. The baron returned to the castle, reassured
to some extent by Ganimard's indifference. He examined the bolts,
watched the servants, and, during the next forty-eight hours, he became
almost persuaded that his fears were groundless. Certainly, as Ganimard
had said, thieves do not warn people they are about to rob.

The fateful day was close at hand. It was now the twenty-sixth of
September and nothing had happened. But at three o'clock the bell rang.
A boy brought this telegram:

"No goods at Batignolles station. Prepare everything for tomorrow night.
Arsène."

This telegram threw the baron into such a state of excitement that he
even considered the advisability of yielding to Lupin's demands.

However, he hastened to Caudebec. Ganimard was fishing at the same
place, seated on a campstool. Without a word, he handed him the
telegram.

"Well, what of it?" said the detective.

"What of it? But it is tomorrow."

"What is tomorrow?"

"The robbery! The pillage of my collections!"

Ganimard laid down his fishing-rod, turned to the baron, and exclaimed,
in a tone of impatience:

"Ah! Do you think I am going to bother myself about such a silly story
as that!"

"How much do you ask to pass tomorrow night in the castle?"

"Not a sou. Now, leave me alone."

"Name your own price. I am rich and can pay it."

This offer disconcerted Ganimard, who replied, calmly:

"I am here on a vacation. I have no right to undertake such work."

"No one will know. I promise to keep it secret."

"Oh! nothing will happen."

"Come! three thousand francs. Will that be enough?"

The detective, after a moment's reflection, said:

"Very well. But I must warn you that you are throwing your money out of
the window."

"I do not care."

"In that case... but, after all, what do we know about this devil Lupin!
He may have quite a numerous band of robbers with him. Are you sure of
your servants?"

"My faith - -"

"Better not count on them. I will telegraph for two of my men to help
me. And now, go! It is better for us not to be seen together. Tomorrow
evening about nine o'clock."

* * * * *

The following day - the date fixed by Arsène Lupin - Baron Cahorn arranged
all his panoply of war, furbished his weapons, and, like a sentinel,
paced to and fro in front of the castle. He saw nothing, heard nothing.
At half-past eight o'clock in the evening, he dismissed his servants.
They occupied rooms in a wing of the building, in a retired spot, well
removed from the main portion of the castle. Shortly thereafter, the
baron heard the sound of approaching footsteps. It was Ganimard and his
two assistants - great, powerful fellows with immense hands, and necks
like bulls. After asking a few questions relating to the location of the
various entrances and rooms, Ganimard carefully closed and barricaded
all the doors and windows through which one could gain access to the
threatened rooms. He inspected the walls, raised the tapestries, and
finally installed his assistants in the central gallery which was
located between the two salons.

"No nonsense! We are not here to sleep. At the slightest sound, open the
windows of the court and call me. Pay attention also to the water-side.
Ten metres of perpendicular rock is no obstacle to those devils."

Ganimard locked his assistants in the gallery, carried away the keys,
and said to the baron:

"And now, to our post."

He had chosen for himself a small room located in the thick outer wall,
between the two principal doors, and which, in former years, had been
the watchman's quarters. A peep-hole opened upon the bridge; another on
the court. In one corner, there was an opening to a tunnel.

"I believe you told me, Monsieur le Baron, that this tunnel is the only
subterranean entrance to the castle and that it has been closed up for
time immemorial?"

"Yes."

"Then, unless there is some other entrance, known only to Arsène Lupin,
we are quite safe."

He placed three chairs together, stretched himself upon them, lighted
his pipe and sighed:

"Really, Monsieur le Baron, I feel ashamed to accept your money for such
a sinecure as this. I will tell the story to my friend Lupin. He will
enjoy it immensely."

The baron did not laugh. He was anxiously listening, but heard nothing
save the beating of his own heart. From time to time, he leaned over the
tunnel and cast a fearful eye into its depths. He heard the clock strike
eleven, twelve, one.

Suddenly, he seized Ganimard's arm. The latter leaped up, awakened from
his sleep.

"Do you hear?" asked the baron, in a whisper.

"Yes."

"What is it?"

"I was snoring, I suppose."

"No, no, listen."

"Ah! yes, it is the horn of an automobile."

"Well?"

"Well! it is very improbable that Lupin would use an automobile like a
battering-ram to demolish your castle. Come, Monsieur le Baron, return
to your post. I am going to sleep. Good-night."

That was the only alarm. Ganimard resumed his interrupted slumbers, and
the baron heard nothing except the regular snoring of his companion. At
break of day, they left the room. The castle was enveloped in a profound
calm; it was a peaceful dawn on the bosom of a tranquil river. They
mounted the stairs, Cahorn radiant with joy, Ganimard calm as usual.
They heard no sound; they saw nothing to arouse suspicion.

"What did I tell you, Monsieur le Baron? Really, I should not have
accepted your offer. I am ashamed."

He unlocked the door and entered the gallery. Upon two chairs, with
drooping heads and pendent arms, the detective's two assistants were
asleep.

"Tonnerre de nom d'un chien!" exclaimed Ganimard. At the same moment,
the baron cried out:

"The pictures! The credence!"

He stammered, choked, with arms outstretched toward the empty places,
toward the denuded walls where naught remained but the useless nails
and cords. The Watteau, disappeared! The Rubens, carried away! The
tapestries taken down! The cabinets, despoiled of their jewels!

"And my Louis XVI candelabra! And the Regent chandelier!...And my
twelfth-century Virgin!"

He ran from one spot to another in wildest despair. He recalled the
purchase price of each article, added up the figures, counted his
losses, pell-mell, in confused words and unfinished phrases. He stamped
with rage; he groaned with grief. He acted like a ruined man whose only
hope is suicide.

If anything could have consoled him, it would have been the stupefaction
displayed by Ganimard. The famous detective did not move. He appeared
to be petrified; he examined the room in a listless manner. The
windows?.... closed. The locks on the doors?.... intact. Not a break in
the ceiling; not a hole in the floor. Everything was in perfect order.
The theft had been carried out methodically, according to a logical and
inexorable plan.

"Arsène Lupin....Arsène Lupin," he muttered.

Suddenly, as if moved by anger, he rushed upon his two assistants and
shook them violently. They did not awaken.

"The devil!" he cried. "Can it be possible?"

He leaned over them and, in turn, examined them closely. They were
asleep; but their response was unnatural.

"They have been drugged," he said to the baron.

"By whom?"

"By him, of course, or his men under his discretion. That work bears his
stamp."

"In that case, I am lost - nothing can be done."

"Nothing," assented Ganimard.

"It is dreadful; it is monstrous."

"Lodge a complaint."

"What good will that do?"

"Oh; it is well to try it. The law has some resources."

"The law! Bah! it is useless. You represent the law, and, at this
moment, when you should be looking for a clue and trying to discover
something, you do not even stir."

"Discover something with Arsène Lupin! Why, my dear monsieur, Arsène
Lupin never leaves any clue behind him. He leaves nothing to chance.
Sometimes I think he put himself in my way and simply allowed me to
arrest him in America."

"Then, I must renounce my pictures! He has taken the gems of my
collection. I would give a fortune to recover them. If there is no other
way, let him name his own price."

Ganimard regarded the baron attentively, as he said:

"Now, that is sensible. Will you stick to it?"

"Yes, yes. But why?"

"An idea that I have."

"What is it?"

"We will discuss it later - if the official examination does not succeed.
But, not one word about me, if you wish my assistance."

He added, between his teeth:

"It is true I have nothing to boast of in this affair."

The assistants were gradually regaining consciousness with the
bewildered air of people who come out of an hypnotic sleep. They opened
their eyes and looked about them in astonishment. Ganimard questioned
them; they remembered nothing.

"But you must have seen some one?"

"No."

"Can't you remember?"

"No, no."

"Did you drink anything?"

They considered a moment, and then one of them replied:

"Yes, I drank a little water."

"Out of that carafe?"

"Yes."

"So did I," declared the other.

Ganimard smelled and tasted it. It had no particular taste and no odor.

"Come," he said, "we are wasting our time here. One can't decide an
Arsène Lupin problem in five minutes. But, morbleau! I swear I will
catch him again."

The same day, a charge of burglary was duly performed by Baron Cahorn
against Arsène Lupin, a prisoner in the Prison de la Santé.

* * * * *

The baron afterwards regretted making the charge against Lupin when he
saw his castle delivered over to the gendarmes, the procureur, the judge
d'instruction, the newspaper reporters and photographers, and a throng
of idle curiosity-seekers.

The affair soon became a topic of general discussion, and the name of
Arsène Lupin excited the public imagination to such an extent that the
newspapers filled their columns with the most fantastic stories of his
exploits which found ready credence amongst their readers.

But the letter of Arsène Lupin that was published in the `Echo de
France' (no once ever knew how the newspaper obtained it), that letter
in which Baron Cahorn was impudently warned of the coming theft, caused
considerable excitement. The most fabulous theories were advanced. Some
recalled the existence of the famous subterranean tunnels, and that was
the line of research pursued by the officers of the law, who searched
the house from top to bottom, questioned every stone, studied the
wainscoting and the chimneys, the window-frames and the girders in the
ceilings. By the light of torches, they examined the immense cellars
where the lords of Malaquis were wont to store their munitions and
provisions. They sounded the rocky foundation to its very centre. But it
was all in vain. They discovered no trace of a subterranean tunnel. No
secret passage existed.

But the eager public declared that the pictures and furniture could not
vanish like so many ghosts. They are substantial, material things and
require doors and windows for their exits and their entrances, and so
do the people that remove them. Who were those people? How did they gain
access to the castle? And how did they leave it?

The police officers of Rouen, convinced of their own impotence,
solicited the assistance of the Parisian detective force. Mon. Dudouis,
chief of the Sûreté, sent the best sleuths of the iron brigade. He
himself spent forty-eight hours at the castle, but met with no success.
Then he sent for Ganimard, whose past services had proved so useful when
all else failed.

Ganimard listened, in silence, to the instructions of his superior;
then, shaking his head, he said:

"In my opinion, it is useless to ransack the castle. The solution of the
problem lies elsewhere."

"Where, then?"

"With Arsène Lupin."

"With Arsène Lupin! To support that theory, we must admit his
intervention."

"I do admit it. In fact, I consider it quite certain."

"Come, Ganimard, that is absurd. Arsène Lupin is in prison."

"I grant you that Arsène Lupin is in prison, closely guarded; but he
must have fetters on his feet, manacles on his wrists, and gag in his
mouth before I change my opinion."

"Why so obstinate, Ganimard?"

"Because Arsène Lupin is the only man in France of sufficient calibre to
invent and carry out a scheme of that magnitude."

"Mere words, Ganimard."

"But true ones. Look! What are they doing? Searching for subterranean
passages, stones swinging on pivots, and other nonsense of that kind.
But Lupin doesn't employ such old-fashioned methods. He is a modern
cracksman, right up to date."

"And how would you proceed?"

"I should ask your permission to spend an hour with him."

"In his cell?"

"Yes. During the return trip from America we became very friendly, and
I venture to say that if he can give me any information without
compromising himself he will not hesitate to save me from incurring
useless trouble."

It was shortly after noon when Ganimard entered the cell of Arsène
Lupin. The latter, who was lying on his bed, raised his head and uttered
a cry of apparent joy.

"Ah! This is a real surprise. My dear Ganimard, here!"

"Ganimard himself."

"In my chosen retreat, I have felt a desire for many things, but my
fondest wish was to receive you here."

"Very kind of you, I am sure."

"Not at all. You know I hold you in the highest regard."

"I am proud of it."

"I have always said: Ganimard is our best detective. He is almost, - you
see how candid I am! - he is almost as clever as Sherlock Holmes. But I
am sorry that I cannot offer you anything better than this hard stool.
And no refreshments! Not even a glass of beer! Of course, you will
excuse me, as I am here only temporarily."

Ganimard smiled, and accepted the proffered seat. Then the prisoner
continued:

"Mon Dieu, how pleased I am to see the face of an honest man. I am so
tired of those devils of spies who come here ten times a day to ransack
my pockets and my cell to satisfy themselves that I am not preparing to


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