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anxiety. It indorsed my determination. It comprehended my animosity
against that rascally Arsène Lupin. The knave! The traitor!

"Turn to the right," cried Delivet, "then to the left."

We fairly flew, scarcely touching the ground. The mile-stones looked
like little timid beasts that vanished at our approach. Suddenly, at a
turn of the road, we saw a vortex of smoke. It was the Northern Express.
For a kilometre, it was a struggle, side by side, but an unequal
struggle in which the issue was certain. We won the race by twenty
lengths.

In three seconds we were on the platform standing before the
second-class carriages. The doors were opened, and some passengers
alighted, but not my thief. We made a search through the compartments.
No sign of Arsène Lupin.

"Sapristi!" I cried, "he must have recognized me in the automobile as we
were racing, side by side, and he leaped from the train."

"Ah! there he is now! crossing the track."

I started in pursuit of the man, followed by my two acolytes, or rather
followed by one of them, for the other, Massol, proved himself to be a
runner of exceptional speed and endurance. In a few moments, he had made
an appreciable gain upon the fugitive. The man noticed it, leaped over
a hedge, scampered across a meadow, and entered a thick grove. When we
reached this grove, Massol was waiting for us. He went no farther, for
fear of losing us.

"Quite right, my dear friend," I said. "After such a run, our victim
must be out of wind. We will catch him now."

I examined the surroundings with the idea of proceeding alone in the
arrest of the fugitive, in order to recover my papers, concerning which
the authorities would doubtless ask many disagreeable questions. Then I
returned to my companions, and said:

"It is all quite easy. You, Massol, take your place at the left; you,
Delivet, at the right. From there, you can observe the entire posterior
line of the bush, and he cannot escape without you seeing him, except by
that ravine, and I shall watch it. If he does not come out voluntarily,
I will enter and drive him out toward one or the other of you. You have
simply to wait. Ah! I forgot: in case I need you, a pistol shot."

Massol and Delivet walked away to their respective posts. As soon as
they had disappeared, I entered the grove with the greatest precaution
so as to be neither seen nor heard. I encountered dense thickets,
through which narrow paths had been cut, but the overhanging boughs
compelled me to adopt a stooping posture. One of these paths led to a
clearing in which I found footsteps upon the wet grass. I followed them;
they led me to the foot of a mound which was surmounted by a deserted,
dilapidated hovel.

"He must be there," I said to myself. "It is a well-chosen retreat."

I crept cautiously to the side of the building. A slight noise informed
me that he was there; and, then, through an opening, I saw him. His back
was turned toward me. In two bounds, I was upon him. He tried to fire
a revolver that he held in his hand. But he had no time. I threw him to
the ground, in such a manner that his arms were beneath him, twisted and
helpless, whilst I held him down with my knee on his breast.

"Listen, my boy," I whispered in his ear. "I am Arsène Lupin. You are
to deliver over to me, immediately and gracefully, my pocketbook and the
lady's jewels, and, in return therefore, I will save you from the police
and enroll you amongst my friends. One word: yes or no?"

"Yes," he murmured.

"Very good. Your escape, this morning, was well planned. I congratulate
you."

I arose. He fumbled in his pocket, drew out a large knife and tried to
strike me with it.

"Imbecile!" I exclaimed.

With one hand, I parried the attack; with the other, I gave him a sharp
blow on the carotid artery. He fell - stunned!

In my pocketbook, I recovered my papers and bank-notes. Out of
curiosity, I took his. Upon an envelope, addressed to him, I read his
name: Pierre Onfrey. It startled me. Pierre Onfrey, the assassin of the
rue Lafontaine at Auteuil! Pierre Onfrey, he who had cut the throats of
Madame Delbois and her two daughters. I leaned over him. Yes, those were
the features which, in the compartment, had evoked in me the memory of a
face I could not then recall.

But time was passing. I placed in an envelope two bank-notes of one
hundred francs each, with a card bearing these words: "Arsène Lupin
to his worthy colleagues Honoré Massol and Gaston Delivet, as a slight
token of his gratitude." I placed it in a prominent spot in the room,
where they would be sure to find it. Beside it, I placed Madame Renaud's
handbag. Why could I not return it to the lady who had befriended me?
I must confess that I had taken from it everything that possessed any
interest or value, leaving there only a shell comb, a stick of rouge
Dorin for the lips, and an empty purse. But, you know, business
is business. And then, really, her husband is engaged in such a
dishonorable vocation!

The man was becoming conscious. What was I to do? I was unable to save
him or condemn him. So I took his revolver and fired a shot in the air.

"My two acolytes will come and attend to his case," I said to myself, as
I hastened away by the road through the ravine. Twenty minutes later, I
was seated in my automobile.

At four o'clock, I telegraphed to my friends at Rouen that an unexpected
event would prevent me from making my promised visit. Between ourselves,
considering what my friends must now know, my visit is postponed
indefinitely. A cruel disillusion for them!

At six o'clock I was in Paris. The evening newspapers informed me that
Pierre Onfrey had been captured at last.

Next day, - let us not despise the advantages of judicious
advertising, - the `Echo de France' published this sensational item:

"Yesterday, near Buchy, after numerous exciting incidents, Arsène Lupin
effected the arrest of Pierre Onfrey. The assassin of the rue Lafontaine
had robbed Madame Renaud, wife of the director in the penitentiary
service, in a railway carriage on the Paris-Havre line. Arsène Lupin
restored to Madame Renaud the hand-bag that contained her jewels, and
gave a generous recompense to the two detectives who had assisted him in
making that dramatic arrest."




V. The Queen's Necklace


Two or three times each year, on occasions of unusual importance,
such as the balls at the Austrian Embassy or the soirées of Lady
Billingstone, the Countess de Dreux-Soubise wore upon her white
shoulders "The Queen's Necklace."

It was, indeed, the famous necklace, the legendary necklace that
Bohmer and Bassenge, court jewelers, had made for Madame Du Barry; the
veritable necklace that the Cardinal de Rohan-Soubise intended to give
to Marie-Antoinette, Queen of France; and the same that the adventuress
Jeanne de Valois, Countess de la Motte, had pulled to pieces one evening
in February, 1785, with the aid of her husband and their accomplice,
Rétaux de Villette.

To tell the truth, the mounting alone was genuine. Rétaux de Villette
had kept it, whilst the Count de la Motte and his wife scattered to the
four winds of heaven the beautiful stones so carefully chosen by Bohmer.
Later, he sold the mounting to Gaston de Dreux-Soubise, nephew and heir
of the Cardinal, who re-purchased the few diamonds that remained in
the possession of the English jeweler, Jeffreys; supplemented them with
other stones of the same size but of much inferior quality, and thus
restored the marvelous necklace to the form in which it had come from
the hands of Bohmer and Bassenge.

For nearly a century, the house of Dreux-Soubise had prided itself upon
the possession of this historic jewel. Although adverse circumstances
had greatly reduced their fortune, they preferred to curtail their
household expenses rather than part with this relic of royalty. More
particularly, the present count clung to it as a man clings to the
home of his ancestors. As a matter of prudence, he had rented a
safety-deposit box at the Crédit Lyonnais in which to keep it. He went
for it himself on the afternoon of the day on which his wife wished to
wear it, and he, himself, carried it back next morning.

On this particular evening, at the reception given at the Palais
de Castille, the Countess achieved a remarkable success; and King
Christian, in whose honor the fête was given, commented on her grace
and beauty. The thousand facets of the diamond sparkled and shone like
flames of fire about her shapely neck and shoulders, and it is safe to
say that none but she could have borne the weight of such an ornament
with so much ease and grace.

This was a double triumph, and the Count de Dreux was highly elated
when they returned to their chamber in the old house of the faubourg
Saint-Germain. He was proud of his wife, and quite as proud, perhaps,
of the necklace that had conferred added luster to his noble house
for generations. His wife, also, regarded the necklace with an almost
childish vanity, and it was not without regret that she removed it
from her shoulders and handed it to her husband who admired it as
passionately as if he had never seen it before. Then, having placed it
in its case of red leather, stamped with the Cardinal's arms, he passed
into an adjoining room which was simply an alcove or cabinet that had
been cut off from their chamber, and which could be entered only by
means of a door at the foot of their bed. As he had done on previous
occasions, he hid it on a high shelf amongst hat-boxes and piles of
linen. He closed the door, and retired.

Next morning, he arose about nine o'clock, intending to go to the Crédit
Lyonnais before breakfast. He dressed, drank a cup of coffee, and went
to the stables to give his orders. The condition of one of the horses
worried him. He caused it to be exercised in his presence. Then he
returned to his wife, who had not yet left the chamber. Her maid was
dressing her hair. When her husband entered, she asked:

"Are you going out?"

"Yes, as far as the bank."

"Of course. That is wise."

He entered the cabinet; but, after a few seconds, and without any sign
of astonishment, he asked:

"Did you take it, my dear?"

"What?....No, I have not taken anything."

"You must have moved it."

"Not at all. I have not even opened that door."

He appeared at the door, disconcerted, and stammered, in a scarcely
intelligible voice:

"You haven't....It wasn't you?....Then...."

She hastened to his assistance, and, together, they made a thorough
search, throwing the boxes to the floor and overturning the piles of
linen. Then the count said, quite discouraged:

"It is useless to look any more. I put it here, on this shelf."

"You must be mistaken."

"No, no, it was on this shelf - nowhere else."

They lighted a candle, as the room was quite dark, and then carried out
all the linen and other articles that the room contained. And, when the
room was emptied, they confessed, in despair, that the famous necklace
had disappeared. Without losing time in vain lamentations, the countess
notified the commissary of police, Mon. Valorbe, who came at once, and,
after hearing their story, inquired of the count:

"Are you sure that no one passed through your chamber during the night?"

"Absolutely sure, as I am a very light sleeper. Besides, the chamber
door was bolted, and I remember unbolting it this morning when my wife
rang for her maid."

"And there is no other entrance to the cabinet?"

"None."

"No windows?"

"Yes, but it is closed up."

"I will look at it."

Candles were lighted, and Mon. Valorbe observed at once that the lower
half of the window was covered by a large press which was, however, so
narrow that it did not touch the casement on either side.

"On what does this window open?"

"A small inner court."

"And you have a floor above this?"

"Two; but, on a level with the servant's floor, there is a close grating
over the court. That is why this room is so dark."

When the press was moved, they found that the window was fastened, which
would not have been the case if anyone had entered that way.

"Unless," said the count, "they went out through our chamber."

"In that case, you would have found the door unbolted."

The commissary considered the situation for a moment, then asked the
countess:

"Did any of your servants know that you wore the necklace last evening?"

"Certainly; I didn't conceal the fact. But nobody knew that it was
hidden in that cabinet."

"No one?"

"No one.... unless...."

"Be quite sure, madam, as it is a very important point."

She turned to her husband, and said:

"I was thinking of Henriette."

"Henriette? She didn't know where we kept it."

"Are you sure?"

"Who is this woman Henriette?" asked Mon. Valorbe.

"A school-mate, who was disowned by her family for marrying beneath her.
After her husband's death, I furnished an apartment in this house for
her and her son. She is clever with her needle and has done some work
for me."

"What floor is she on?"

"Same as ours.... at the end of the corridor.... and I think.... the
window of her kitchen...."

"Opens on this little court, does it not?"

"Yes, just opposite ours."

Mon. Valorbe then asked to see Henriette. They went to her apartment;
she was sewing, whilst her son Raoul, about six years old, was sitting
beside her, reading. The commissary was surprised to see the wretched
apartment that had been provided for the woman. It consisted of one room
without a fireplace, and a very small room that served as a kitchen. The
commissary proceeded to question her. She appeared to be overwhelmed on
learning of the theft. Last evening she had herself dressed the countess
and placed the necklace upon her shoulders.

"Good God!" she exclaimed, "it can't be possible!"

"And you have no idea? Not the least suspicion? Is it possible that the
thief may have passed through your room?"

She laughed heartily, never supposing that she could be an object of
suspicion.

"But I have not left my room. I never go out. And, perhaps, you have not
seen?"

She opened the kitchen window, and said:

"See, it is at least three metres to the ledge of the opposite window."

"Who told you that we supposed the theft might have been committed in
that way?"

"But.... the necklace was in the cabinet, wasn't it?"

"How do you know that?"

"Why, I have always known that it was kept there at night. It had been
mentioned in my presence."

Her face, though still young, bore unmistakable traces of sorrow and
resignation. And it now assumed an expression of anxiety as if some
danger threatened her. She drew her son toward her. The child took her
hand, and kissed it affectionately.

When they were alone again, the count said to the commissary:

"I do not suppose you suspect Henriette. I can answer for her. She is
honesty itself."

"I quite agree with you," replied Mon. Valorbe. "At most, I thought
there might have been an unconscious complicity. But I confess that even
that theory must be abandoned, as it does not help solve the problem now
before us."

The commissary of police abandoned the investigation, which was now
taken up and completed by the examining judge. He questioned the
servants, examined the condition of the bolt, experimented with the
opening and closing of the cabinet window, and explored the little court
from top to bottom. All was in vain. The bolt was intact. The window
could not be opened or closed from the outside.

The inquiries especially concerned Henriette, for, in spite of
everything, they always turned in her direction. They made a thorough
investigation of her past life, and ascertained that, during the last
three years, she had left the house only four times, and her business,
on those occasions, was satisfactorily explained. As a matter of fact,
she acted as chambermaid and seamstress to the countess, who treated her
with great strictness and even severity.

At the end of a week, the examining judge had secured no more definite
information than the commissary of police. The judge said:

"Admitting that we know the guilty party, which we do not, we are
confronted by the fact that we do not know how the theft was
committed. We are brought face to face with two obstacles: a door and a
window - both closed and fastened. It is thus a double mystery. How could
anyone enter, and, moreover, how could any one escape, leaving behind
him a bolted door and a fastened window?"

At the end of four months, the secret opinion of the judge was that the
count and countess, being hard pressed for money, which was their normal
condition, had sold the Queen's Necklace. He closed the investigation.

The loss of the famous jewel was a severe blow to the Dreux-Soubise.
Their credit being no longer propped up by the reserve fund that such a
treasure constituted, they found themselves confronted by more exacting
creditors and money-lenders. They were obliged to cut down to the quick,
to sell or mortgage every article that possessed any commercial value.
In brief, it would have been their ruin, if two large legacies from some
distant relatives had not saved them.

Their pride also suffered a downfall, as if they had lost a quartering
from their escutcheon. And, strange to relate, it was upon her former
schoolmate, Henriette, that the countess vented her spleen. Toward
her, the countess displayed the most spiteful feelings, and even openly
accused her. First, Henriette was relegated to the servants' quarters,
and, next day, discharged.

For some time, the count and countess passed an uneventful life. They
traveled a great deal. Only one incident of record occurred during that
period. Some months after the departure of Henriette, the countess was
surprised when she received and read the following letter, signed by
Henriette:

"Madame," "I do not know how to thank you; for it was you, was it not,
who sent me that? It could not have been anyone else. No one but you
knows where I live. If I am wrong, excuse me, and accept my sincere
thanks for your past favors...."

What did the letter mean? The present or past favors of the countess
consisted principally of injustice and neglect. Why, then, this letter
of thanks?

When asked for an explanation, Henriette replied that she had received
a letter, through the mails, enclosing two bank-notes of one thousand
francs each. The envelope, which she enclosed with her reply, bore the
Paris post-mark, and was addressed in a handwriting that was obviously
disguised. Now, whence came those two thousand francs? Who had sent
them? And why had they sent them?

Henriette received a similar letter and a like sum of money twelve
months later. And a third time; and a fourth; and each year for a period
of six years, with this difference, that in the fifth and sixth years
the sum was doubled. There was another difference: the post-office
authorities having seized one of the letters under the pretext that it
was not registered, the last two letters were duly sent according to the
postal regulations, the first dated from Saint-Germain, the other from
Suresnes. The writer signed the first one, "Anquety"; and the other,
"Péchard." The addresses that he gave were false.

At the end of six years, Henriette died, and the mystery remained
unsolved.

* * * * *

All these events are known to the public. The case was one of those
which excite public interest, and it was a strange coincidence that this
necklace, which had caused such a great commotion in France at the close
of the eighteenth century, should create a similar commotion a century
later. But what I am about to relate is known only to the parties
directly interested and a few others from whom the count exacted a
promise of secrecy. As it is probable that some day or other that
promise will be broken, I have no hesitation in rending the veil and
thus disclosing the key to the mystery, the explanation of the letter
published in the morning papers two days ago; an extraordinary letter
which increased, if possible, the mists and shadows that envelope this
inscrutable drama.

Five days ago, a number of guests were dining with the Count de
Dreux-Soubise. There were several ladies present, including his two
nieces and his cousin, and the following gentlemen: the president of
Essaville, the deputy Bochas, the chevalier Floriani, whom the count had
known in Sicily, and General Marquis de Rouzières, and old club friend.

After the repast, coffee was served by the ladies, who gave the
gentlemen permission to smoke their cigarettes, provided they would not
desert the salon. The conversation was general, and finally one of the
guests chanced to speak of celebrated crimes. And that gave the Marquis
de Rouzières, who delighted to tease the count, an opportunity to
mention the affair of the Queen's Necklace, a subject that the count
detested.

Each one expressed his own opinion of the affair; and, of course, their
various theories were not only contradictory but impossible.

"And you, monsieur," said the countess to the chevalier Floriani, "what
is your opinion?"

"Oh! I - I have no opinion, madame."

All the guests protested; for the chevalier had just related in an
entertaining manner various adventures in which he had participated with
his father, a magistrate at Palermo, and which established his judgment
and taste in such manners.

"I confess," said he, "I have sometimes succeeded in unraveling
mysteries that the cleverest detectives have renounced; yet I do not
claim to be Sherlock Holmes. Moreover, I know very little about the
affair of the Queen's Necklace."

Everybody now turned to the count, who was thus obliged, quite
unwillingly, to narrate all the circumstances connected with the theft.
The chevalier listened, reflected, asked a few questions, and said:

"It is very strange.... at first sight, the problem appears to be a very
simple one."

The count shrugged his shoulders. The others drew closer to the
chevalier, who continued, in a dogmatic tone:

"As a general rule, in order to find the author of a crime or a theft,
it is necessary to determine how that crime or theft was committed, or,
at least, how it could have been committed. In the present case, nothing
is more simple, because we are face to face, not with several theories,
but with one positive fact, that is to say: the thief could only enter
by the chamber door or the window of the cabinet. Now, a person cannot
open a bolted door from the outside. Therefore, he must have entered
through the window."

"But it was closed and fastened, and we found it fastened afterward,"
declared the count.

"In order to do that," continued Floriani, without heeding the
interruption, "he had simply to construct a bridge, a plank or a ladder,
between the balcony of the kitchen and the ledge of the window, and as
the jewel-case - -"

"But I repeat that the window was fastened," exclaimed the count,
impatiently.

This time, Floriani was obliged to reply. He did so with the greatest
tranquility, as if the objection was the most insignificant affair in
the world.

"I will admit that it was; but is there not a transom in the upper part
of the window?"

"How do you know that?"

"In the first place, that was customary in houses of that date; and,
in the second place, without such a transom, the theft cannot be
explained."

"Yes, there is one, but it was closed, the same as the window.
Consequently, we did not pay attention to it."

"That was a mistake; for, if you had examined it, you would have found
that it had been opened."

"But how?"

"I presume that, like all others, it opens by means of a wire with a
ring on the lower end."

"Yes, but I do not see - -"

"Now, through a hole in the window, a person could, by the aid of some
instrument, let us say a poker with a hook at the end, grip the ring,
pull down, and open the transom."

The count laughed and said:

"Excellent! excellent! Your scheme is very cleverly constructed, but you
overlook one thing, monsieur, there is no hole in the window."

"There was a hole."

"Nonsense, we would have seen it."

"In order to see it, you must look for it, and no one has looked. The
hole is there; it must be there, at the side of the window, in the
putty. In a vertical direction, of course."

The count arose. He was greatly excited. He paced up and down the room,
two or three times, in a nervous manner; then, approaching Floriani,
said:

"Nobody has been in that room since; nothing has been changed."

"Very well, monsieur, you can easily satisfy yourself that my
explanation is correct."


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