CHAPTER I : NUMBER 514, SERIES 23 --- 9/10
The hall-door bell rang: three rings in quick succession, then a single ring, then another single ring.
"There she is," said Lupin. "My dear maitre, if you would not mind...."
The lawyer ran to open the door.
Two young women entered. One of them flung herself into M. Gerbois' arms. The other went up to Lupin. She was tall and shapely, with a very pale face, and her fair hair, which glittered like gold, was parted into two loosely waved bandeaux. Dressed in black, wearing no ornament beyond a five-fold jet necklace, she nevertheless struck a note of elegance and refinement.
Arsene Lupin spoke a few words to her and then, bowing to Mlle. Gerbois, said:
"I must apologize to you, mademoiselle, for all this annoyance; but I hope, nevertheless, that you have not been too unhappy...."
"Unhappy! I should even have been very happy, if it had not been for my poor father."
"Then all is for the best. Embrace him once more and take the opportunity?you will never have a better?of speaking to him about your cousin."
"My cousin?... What do you mean?... I don't understand...."
"Oh, I think you understand.... Your cousin Philippe ... the young man whose letters you kept so preciously...."
Suzanne blushed, lost countenance and then, taking Lupin's advice, threw herself once more into her father's arms.
Lupin looked at them both with a melting eye:
"Ah, we are always rewarded for doing good! What a touching sight! Happy father! Happy daughter! And to think that this happiness is your work, Lupin! Those two beings will bless you later.... Your name will be piously handed down to their children and their children's children.... Oh, family life!... Family life!..." He turned to the window. "Is our dear Ganimard there still?... How he would love to witness this charming display of affection!... But no, he is not there.... There is nobody ... they're all gone.... By Jove, the position is growing serious!... I shouldn't wonder if they were in the gateway by now ... or by the porter's lodge ... or even on the stairs!"
M. Gerbois made an involuntary movement. Now that his daughter was restored to him, he began to see things in their true light. The arrest of his adversary meant half a million to him. Instinctively, he took a step toward the door.... Lupin barred his way, as though by accident:
"Where are you going, M. Gerbois? To defend me against them? You are too kind! Pray don't trouble. Besides, I assure you they are more perplexed than I." And he continued, reflectively: "What do they know, when all is said? That you are here ... and, perhaps, that Mlle. Gerbois is here too, for they must have seen her come with an unknown lady. But they have no idea that I am here. How could I have entered a house which they searched this morning from cellar to garret? No, in all probability they are waiting for me to catch me on the wing ... poor fellows!... Unless they have guessed that the unknown lady was sent by me and presume that she has been commissioned to effect the exchange.... In that case, they are preparing to arrest her when she leaves...."
The bell rang.
Lupin stopped M. Gerbois with an abrupt gesture and, in a harsh and peremptory voice, said:
"Stay where you are, sir! Think of your daughter and be reasonable; if not.... As for you, Maitre Detinan, I have your word."
M. Gerbois stood rooted to the floor. The lawyer did not move.
Lupin took up his hat without the least show of haste. There was a little dust on it; he brushed it with the back of his coat-sleeve:
"My dear maitre, if I can ever be of use to you.... My best wishes, Mlle. Suzanne, and kind regards to M. Philippe." He took a heavy gold hunter from his pocket. "M. Gerbois, it is now eighteen minutes to four: I authorize you to leave this room at fourteen minutes to four.... Not a moment before fourteen minutes to four.... Is it understood?"
"But they'll enter by force!" Maitre Detinan could not help saying.
"You forget the law, my dear maitre! Ganimard would never dare to violate the sanctity of a Frenchman's home. We should have time for a pleasant rubber. But forgive me, you all three seem a little upset and I would not for the world abuse...."
He placed the watch on the table, opened the door of the room and, addressing the fair-haired lady, said:
"Shall we go, dear?"
He stood back for her to pass, made a parting and very respectful bow to Mlle. Gerbois, walked out and closed the door after him. And they heard him, in the hall, saying aloud:
"Good-afternoon, Ganimard, how are you? Remember me very kindly to Mme. Ganimard.... I must drop in on her to lunch one of these days.... Good-bye, Ganimard!"
The bell rang again, sharply, violently, followed by repeated knocks and by the sound of voices on the landing....
"A quarter to four," stammered M. Gerbois.
After a few seconds, he stepped boldly into the hall. Arsene Lupin and the fair-haired lady were not there.
"Father!... You mustn't!... Wait!" cried Suzanne.
"Wait? You're mad!... Show consideration to that scoundrel!... And what about the half-million?..."
He opened the door.
Ganimard rushed in:
"Where's that lady?... And Lupin?"
"He was there ... he is there now."
Ganimard gave a shout of triumph:
"We've got him!... The house is surrounded."
Maitre Detinan objected:
"But the servants' staircase?"
"The servants' staircase leads to the courtyard and there's only one outlet, the front door: I have ten men watching it."
"But he did not come in by the front door.... He won't go out that way either...."
"Which way, then?" jeered Ganimard. "Through the air?"
He drew back a curtain. A long passage was revealed, leading to the kitchen. Ganimard ran down it and found that the door of the servants' staircase was double-locked.
Opening the window, he called to one of the detectives:
"Seen any one?"
"No, sir."
"Then," he exclaimed, "they are in the flat!... They are hiding in one of the rooms!... It is physically impossible for them to have escaped.... Ah, Lupin, my lad, you did me once, but I'm having my revenge this time!..."

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