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"No; but it costs money to get around them. Before we left America, one
of the employees of the service there accepted so much money to insert
false figures in my measurements. Consequently, Baudru's measurements
should not agree with those of Arsène Lupin."

After a short silence, Ganimard asked:

"What are you going to do now?"

"Now," replied Lupin, "I am going to take a rest, enjoy the best of food
and drink and gradually recover my former healthy condition. It is all
very well to become Baudru or some other person, on occasion, and to
change your personality as you do your shirt, but you soon grow weary of
the change. I feel exactly as I imagine the man who lost his shadow must
have felt, and I shall be glad to be Arsène Lupin once more."

He walked to and fro for a few minutes, then, stopping in front of
Ganimard, he said:

"You have nothing more to say, I suppose?"

"Yes. I should like to know if you intend to reveal the true state of
facts connected with your escape. The mistake that I made - -"

"Oh! no one will ever know that it was Arsène Lupin who was discharged.
It is to my own interest to surround myself with mystery, and therefore
I shall permit my escape to retain its almost miraculous character. So,
have no fear on that score, my dear friend. I shall say nothing. And
now, good-bye. I am going out to dinner this evening, and have only
sufficient time to dress."

"I though you wanted a rest."

"Ah! there are duties to society that one cannot avoid. To-morrow, I
shall rest."

"Where do you dine to-night?"

"With the British Ambassador!"

IV. The Mysterious Traveller

The evening before, I had sent my automobile to Rouen by the highway.
I was to travel to Rouen by rail, on my way to visit some friends that
live on the banks of the Seine.

At Paris, a few minutes before the train started, seven gentlemen
entered my compartment; five of them were smoking. No matter that the
journey was a short one, the thought of traveling with such a company
was not agreeable to me, especially as the car was built on the old
model, without a corridor. I picked up my overcoat, my newspapers and my
time-table, and sought refuge in a neighboring compartment.

It was occupied by a lady, who, at sight of me, made a gesture of
annoyance that did not escape my notice, and she leaned toward a
gentleman who was standing on the step and was, no doubt, her husband.
The gentleman scrutinized me closely, and, apparently, my appearance did
not displease him, for he smiled as he spoke to his wife with the air
of one who reassures a frightened child. She smiled also, and gave me a
friendly glance as if she now understood that I was one of those gallant
men with whom a woman can remain shut up for two hours in a little box,
six feet square, and have nothing to fear.

Her husband said to her:

"I have an important appointment, my dear, and cannot wait any longer.

He kissed her affectionately and went away. His wife threw him a few
kisses and waved her handkerchief. The whistle sounded, and the train

At that precise moment, and despite the protests of the guards, the door
was opened, and a man rushed into our compartment. My companion, who
was standing and arranging her luggage, uttered a cry of terror and fell
upon the seat. I am not a coward - far from it - but I confess that such
intrusions at the last minute are always disconcerting. They have a
suspicious, unnatural aspect.

However, the appearance of the new arrival greatly modified the
unfavorable impression produced by his precipitant action. He was
correctly and elegantly dressed, wore a tasteful cravat, correct gloves,
and his face was refined and intelligent. But, where the devil had I
seen that face before? Because, beyond all possible doubt, I had seen
it. And yet the memory of it was so vague and indistinct that I felt it
would be useless to try to recall it at that time.

Then, directing my attention to the lady, I was amazed at the pallor
and anxiety I saw in her face. She was looking at her neighbor - they
occupied seats on the same side of the compartment - with an expression
of intense alarm, and I perceived that one of her trembling hands was
slowly gliding toward a little traveling bag that was lying on the seat
about twenty inches from her. She finished by seizing it and nervously
drawing it to her. Our eyes met, and I read in hers so much anxiety and
fear that I could not refrain from speaking to her:

"Are you ill, madame? Shall I open the window?"

Her only reply was a gesture indicating that she was afraid of our
companion. I smiled, as her husband had done, shrugged my shoulders, and
explained to her, in pantomime, that she had nothing to fear, that I
was there, and, besides, the gentleman appeared to be a very harmless
individual. At that moment, he turned toward us, scrutinized both of us
from head to foot, then settled down in his corner and paid us no more

After a short silence, the lady, as if she had mustered all her energy
to perform a desperate act, said to me, in an almost inaudible voice:

"Do you know who is on our train?"


"He.... he....I assure you...."

"Who is he?"

"Arsène Lupin!"

She had not taken her eyes off our companion, and it was to him rather
than to me that she uttered the syllables of that disquieting name.
He drew his hat over his face. Was that to conceal his agitation or,
simply, to arrange himself for sleep? Then I said to her:

"Yesterday, through contumacy, Arsène Lupin was sentenced to twenty
years' imprisonment at hard labor. Therefore it is improbable that he
would be so imprudent, to-day, as to show himself in public. Moreover,
the newspapers have announced his appearance in Turkey since his escape
from the Santé."

"But he is on this train at the present moment," the lady proclaimed,
with the obvious intention of being heard by our companion; "my husband
is one of the directors in the penitentiary service, and it was the
stationmaster himself who told us that a search was being made for
Arsène Lupin."

"They may have been mistaken - -"

"No; he was seen in the waiting-room. He bought a first-class ticket for

"He has disappeared. The guard at the waiting-room door did not see him
pass, and it is supposed that he had got into the express that leaves
ten minutes after us."

"In that case, they will be sure to catch him."

"Unless, at the last moment, he leaped from that train to come here,
into our train.... which is quite probable.... which is almost certain."

"If so, he will be arrested just the same; for the employees and guards
would no doubt observe his passage from one train to the other, and,
when we arrive at Rouen, they will arrest him there."

"Him - never! He will find some means of escape."

"In that case, I wish him 'bon voyage.'"

"But, in the meantime, think what he may do!"


"I don't know. He may do anything."

She was greatly agitated, and, truly, the situation justified, to some
extent, her nervous excitement. I was impelled to say to her:

"Of course, there are many strange coincidences, but you need have no
fear. Admitting that Arsène Lupin is on this train, he will not commit
any indiscretion; he will be only too happy to escape the peril that
already threatens him."

My words did not reassure her, but she remained silent for a time. I
unfolded my newspapers and read reports of Arsène Lupin's trial, but, as
they contained nothing that was new to me, I was not greatly interested.
Moreover, I was tired and sleepy. I felt my eyelids close and my head

"But, monsieur, you are not going to sleep!"

She seized my newspaper, and looked at me with indignation.

"Certainly not," I said.

"That would be very imprudent."

"Of course," I assented.

I struggled to keep awake. I looked through the window at the landscape
and the fleeting clouds, but in a short time all that became confused
and indistinct; the image of the nervous lady and the drowsy gentleman
were effaced from my memory, and I was buried in the soothing depths of
a profound sleep. The tranquility of my response was soon disturbed by
disquieting dreams, wherein a creature that had played the part and bore
the name of Arsène Lupin held an important place. He appeared to me
with his back laden with articles of value; he leaped over walls, and
plundered castles. But the outlines of that creature, who was no longer
Arsène Lupin, assumed a more definite form. He came toward me, growing
larger and larger, leaped into the compartment with incredible agility,
and landed squarely on my chest. With a cry of fright and pain, I awoke.
The man, the traveller, our companion, with his knee on my breast, held
me by the throat.

My sight was very indistinct, for my eyes were suffused with blood.
I could see the lady, in a corner of the compartment, convulsed
with fright. I tried even not to resist. Besides, I did not have the
strength. My temples throbbed; I was almost strangled. One minute more,
and I would have breathed my last. The man must have realized it, for he
relaxed his grip, but did not remove his hand. Then he took a cord, in
which he had prepared a slip-knot, and tied my wrists together. In an
instant, I was bound, gagged, and helpless.

Certainly, he accomplished the trick with an ease and skill that
revealed the hand of a master; he was, no doubt, a professional thief.
Not a word, not a nervous movement; only coolness and audacity. And I
was there, lying on the bench, bound like a mummy, I - Arsène Lupin!

It was anything but a laughing matter, and yet, despite the gravity
of the situation, I keenly appreciated the humor and irony that it
involved. Arsène Lupin seized and bound like a novice! robbed as if I
were an unsophisticated rustic - for, you must understand, the scoundrel
had deprived me of my purse and wallet! Arsène Lupin, a victim, duped,
vanquished....What an adventure!

The lady did not move. He did not even notice her. He contented himself
with picking up her traveling-bag that had fallen to the floor and
taking from it the jewels, purse, and gold and silver trinkets that it
contained. The lady opened her eyes, trembled with fear, drew the rings
from her fingers and handed them to the man as if she wished to spare
him unnecessary trouble. He took the rings and looked at her. She

Then, quite unruffled, he resumed his seat, lighted a cigarette, and
proceeded to examine the treasure that he had acquired. The examination
appeared to give him perfect satisfaction.

But I was not so well satisfied. I do not speak of the twelve thousand
francs of which I had been unduly deprived: that was only a temporary
loss, because I was certain that I would recover possession of that
money after a very brief delay, together with the important papers
contained in my wallet: plans, specifications, addresses, lists of
correspondents, and compromising letters. But, for the moment, a more
immediate and more serious question troubled me: How would this affair
end? What would be the outcome of this adventure?

As you can imagine, the disturbance created by my passage through the
Saint-Lazare station has not escaped my notice. Going to visit friends
who knew me under the name of Guillaume Berlat, and amongst whom my
resemblance to Arsène Lupin was a subject of many innocent jests, I
could not assume a disguise, and my presence had been remarked.
So, beyond question, the commissary of police at Rouen, notified by
telegraph, and assisted by numerous agents, would be awaiting the train,
would question all suspicious passengers, and proceed to search the

Of course, I had foreseen all that, but it had not disturbed me, as I
was certain that the police of Rouen would not be any shrewder than the
police of Paris and that I could escape recognition; would it not be
sufficient for me to carelessly display my card as "député," thanks
to which I had inspired complete confidence in the gate-keeper at
Saint-Lazare? - But the situation was greatly changed. I was no longer
free. It was impossible to attempt one of my usual tricks. In one of
the compartments, the commissary of police would find Mon. Arsène Lupin,
bound hand and foot, as docile as a lamb, packed up, all ready to be
dumped into a prison-van. He would have simply to accept delivery of the
parcel, the same as if it were so much merchandise or a basket of fruit
and vegetables. Yet, to avoid that shameful dénouement, what could I
do? - bound and gagged, as I was? And the train was rushing on toward
Rouen, the next and only station.

Another problem was presented, in which I was less interested, but
the solution of which aroused my professional curiosity. What were the
intentions of my rascally companion? Of course, if I had been alone, he
could, on our arrival at Rouen, leave the car slowly and fearlessly. But
the lady? As soon as the door of the compartment should be opened, the
lady, now so quiet and humble, would scream and call for help. That was
the dilemma that perplexed me! Why had he not reduced her to a helpless
condition similar to mine? That would have given him ample time to
disappear before his double crime was discovered.

He was still smoking, with his eyes fixed upon the window that was
now being streaked with drops of rain. Once he turned, picked up my
time-table, and consulted it.

The lady had to feign a continued lack of consciousness in order to
deceive the enemy. But fits of coughing, provoked by the smoke, exposed
her true condition. As to me, I was very uncomfortable, and very tired.
And I meditated; I plotted.

The train was rushing on, joyously, intoxicated with its own speed.

Saint Etienne!....At that moment, the man arose and took two steps
toward us, which caused the lady to utter a cry of alarm and fall into
a genuine swoon. What was the man about to do? He lowered the window
on our side. A heavy rain was now falling, and, by a gesture, the man
expressed his annoyance at his not having an umbrella or an overcoat. He
glanced at the rack. The lady's umbrella was there. He took it. He also
took my overcoat and put it on.

We were now crossing the Seine. He turned up the bottoms of his
trousers, then leaned over and raised the exterior latch of the door.
Was he going to throw himself upon the track? At that speed, it would
have been instant death. We now entered a tunnel. The man opened the
door half-way and stood on the upper step. What folly! The darkness, the
smoke, the noise, all gave a fantastic appearance to his actions. But
suddenly, the train diminished its speed. A moment later it increased
its speed, then slowed up again. Probably, some repairs were being made
in that part of the tunnel which obliged the trains to diminish their
speed, and the man was aware of the fact. He immediately stepped down to
the lower step, closed the door behind him, and leaped to the ground. He
was gone.

The lady immediately recovered her wits, and her first act was to lament
the loss of her jewels. I gave her an imploring look. She understood,
and quickly removed the gag that stifled me. She wished to untie the
cords that bound me, but I prevented her.

"No, no, the police must see everything exactly as it stands. I want
them to see what the rascal did to us."

"Suppose I pull the alarm-bell?"

"Too late. You should have done that when he made the attack on me."

"But he would have killed me. Ah! monsieur, didn't I tell you that he
was on this train. I recognized him from his portrait. And now he has
gone off with my jewels."

"Don't worry. The police will catch him."

"Catch Arsène Lupin! Never."

"That depends on you, madame. Listen. When we arrive at Rouen, be at the
door and call. Make a noise. The police and the railway employees will
come. Tell what you have seen: the assault made on me and the flight of
Arsène Lupin. Give a description of him - soft hat, umbrella - yours - gray

"Yours," said she.

"What! mine? Not at all. It was his. I didn't have any."

"It seems to me he didn't have one when he came in."

"Yes, yes.... unless the coat was one that some one had forgotten and
left in the rack. At all events, he had it when he went away, and that
is the essential point. A gray overcoat - remember!....Ah! I forgot.
You must tell your name, first thing you do. Your husband's official
position will stimulate the zeal of the police."

We arrived at the station. I gave her some further instructions in a
rather imperious tone:

"Tell them my name - Guillaume Berlat. If necessary, say that you know
me. That will save time. We must expedite the preliminary investigation.
The important thing is the pursuit of Arsène Lupin. Your jewels,
remember! Let there be no mistake. Guillaume Berlat, a friend of your

"I understand....Guillaume Berlat."

She was already calling and gesticulating. As soon as the train stopped,
several men entered the compartment. The critical moment had come.

Panting for breath, the lady exclaimed:

"Arsène Lupin.... he attacked us.... he stole my jewels....I am Madame
Renaud.... my husband is a director of the penitentiary service....Ah!
here is my brother, Georges Ardelle, director of the Crédit
Rouennais.... you must know...."

She embraced a young man who had just joined us, and whom the commissary
saluted. Then she continued, weeping:

"Yes, Arsène Lupin.... while monsieur was sleeping, he seized him by the
throat....Mon. Berlat, a friend of my husband."

The commissary asked:

"But where is Arsène Lupin?"

"He leaped from the train, when passing through the tunnel."

"Are you sure that it was he?"

"Am I sure! I recognized him perfectly. Besides, he was seen at the
Saint-Lazare station. He wore a soft hat - -"

"No, a hard felt, like that," said the commissary, pointing to my hat.

"He had a soft hat, I am sure," repeated Madame Renaud, "and a gray

"Yes, that is right," replied the commissary, "the telegram says he wore
a gray overcoat with a black velvet collar."

"Exactly, a black velvet collar," exclaimed Madame Renaud, triumphantly.

I breathed freely. Ah! the excellent friend I had in that little woman.

The police agents had now released me. I bit my lips until they ran
blood. Stooping over, with my handkerchief over my mouth, an attitude
quite natural in a person who has remained for a long time in an
uncomfortable position, and whose mouth shows the bloody marks of the
gag, I addressed the commissary, in a weak voice:

"Monsieur, it was Arsène Lupin. There is no doubt about that. If we make
haste, he can be caught yet. I think I may be of some service to you."

The railway car, in which the crime occurred, was detached from the
train to serve as a mute witness at the official investigation. The
train continued on its way to Havre. We were then conducted to the
station-master's office through a crowd of curious spectators.

Then, I had a sudden access of doubt and discretion. Under some pretext
or other, I must gain my automobile, and escape. To remain there was
dangerous. Something might happen; for instance, a telegram from Paris,
and I would be lost.

Yes, but what about my thief? Abandoned to my own resources, in an
unfamiliar country, I could not hope to catch him.

"Bah! I must make the attempt," I said to myself. "It may be a difficult
game, but an amusing one, and the stake is well worth the trouble."

And when the commissary asked us to repeat the story of the robbery, I

"Monsieur, really, Arsène Lupin is getting the start of us. My
automobile is waiting in the courtyard. If you will be so kind as to use
it, we can try...."

The commissary smiled, and replied:

"The idea is a good one; so good, indeed, that it is already being
carried out. Two of my men have set out on bicycles. They have been gone
for some time."

"Where did they go?"

"To the entrance of the tunnel. There, they will gather evidence, secure
witnesses, and follow on the track of Arsène Lupin."

I could not refrain from shrugging my shoulders, as I replied:

"Your men will not secure any evidence or any witnesses."


"Arsène Lupin will not allow anyone to see him emerge from the tunnel.
He will take the first road - -"

"To Rouen, where we will arrest him."

"He will not go to Rouen."

"Then he will remain in the vicinity, where his capture will be even
more certain."

"He will not remain in the vicinity."

"Oh! oh! And where will he hide?"

I looked at my watch, and said:

"At the present moment, Arsène Lupin is prowling around the station at
Darnétal. At ten fifty, that is, in twenty-two minutes from now, he will
take the train that goes from Rouen to Amiens."

"Do you think so? How do you know it?"

"Oh! it is quite simple. While we were in the car, Arsène Lupin
consulted my railway guide. Why did he do it? Was there, not far from
the spot where he disappeared, another line of railway, a station
upon that line, and a train stopping at that station? On consulting my
railway guide, I found such to be the case."

"Really, monsieur," said the commissary, "that is a marvelous deduction.
I congratulate you on your skill."

I was now convinced that I had made a mistake in displaying so much
cleverness. The commissary regarded me with astonishment, and I thought
a slight suspicion entered his official mind....Oh! scarcely that, for
the photographs distributed broadcast by the police department were too
imperfect; they presented an Arsène Lupin so different from the one he
had before him, that he could not possibly recognize me by it. But, all
the same, he was troubled, confused and ill-at-ease.

"Mon Dieu! nothing stimulates the comprehension so much as the loss of a
pocketbook and the desire to recover it. And it seems to me that if you
will give me two of your men, we may be able...."

"Oh! I beg of you, monsieur le commissaire," cried Madame Renaud,
"listen to Mon. Berlat."

The intervention of my excellent friend was decisive. Pronounced by her,
the wife of an influential official, the name of Berlat became really
my own, and gave me an identity that no mere suspicion could affect. The
commissary arose, and said:

"Believe me, Monsieur Berlat, I shall be delighted to see you succeed. I
am as much interested as you are in the arrest of Arsène Lupin."

He accompanied me to the automobile, and introduced two of his men,
Honoré Massol and Gaston Delivet, who were assigned to assist me. My
chauffer cranked up the car and I took my place at the wheel. A few
seconds later, we left the station. I was saved.

Ah! I must confess that in rolling over the boulevards that surrounded
the old Norman city, in my swift thirty-five horse-power Moreau-Lepton,
I experienced a deep feeling of pride, and the motor responded,
sympathetically to my desires. At right and left, the trees flew past
us with startling rapidity, and I, free, out of danger, had simply to
arrange my little personal affairs with the two honest representatives
of the Rouen police who were sitting behind me. Arsène Lupin was going
in search of Arsène Lupin!

Modest guardians of social order - Gaston Delivet and Honoré Massol - how
valuable was your assistance! What would I have done without you?
Without you, many times, at the cross-roads, I might have taken the
wrong route! Without you, Arsène Lupin would have made a mistake, and
the other would have escaped!

But the end was not yet. Far from it. I had yet to capture the thief and
recover the stolen papers. Under no circumstances must my two acolytes
be permitted to see those papers, much less to seize them. That was a
point that might give me some difficulty.

We arrived at Darnétal three minutes after the departure of the train.
True, I had the consolation of learning that a man wearing a gray
overcoat with a black velvet collar had taken the train at the station.
He had bought a second-class ticket for Amiens. Certainly, my début as
detective was a promising one.

Delivet said to me:

"The train is express, and the next stop is Montérolier-Buchy in
nineteen minutes. If we do not reach there before Arsène Lupin, he can
proceed to Amiens, or change for the train going to Clères, and, from
that point, reach Dieppe or Paris."

"How far to Montérolier?"

"Twenty-three kilometres."

"Twenty-three kilometres in nineteen minutes....We will be there ahead
of him."

We were off again! Never had my faithful Moreau-Repton responded to
my impatience with such ardor and regularity. It participated in my

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Online LibraryMaurice LeblancThe Extraordinary Adventures of Arsene Lupin, Gentleman-Burglar → online text (page 5 of 13)