CHAPTER II. The Blue-edged Label
2. 르노르망 국장, 수사를 시작하다

"Arsene Lupin!"

Gourel repeated these two fateful words with an absolutely petrified air. They rang within him like a knell. Arsene Lupin! The great, the formidable Arsene Lupin. The burglar-king, the mighty adventurer! Was it possible?

"No, no," he muttered, "it's not possible, because he's dead!"

Only that was just it . . . was he really dead?

Arsene Lupin!

Standing beside the corpse, he remained dull and stunned, turning the card over and over with a certain dread, as though he had been challenged by a ghost. Arsene Lupin! What ought he to do? Act? Take the field with his resources? No, no . . . better not act . . . . He was bound to make mistakes if he entered the lists with an adversary of that stamp. Besides, the chief was on his way!

The chief was on his way! All Gourel's intellectual philosophy was summed up in that short sentence. An able, persevering officer, full of courage and experience and endowed with Herculean strength, he was one of those who go ahead only when obeying directions and who do good work only when ordered. And this lack of initiative had become still more marked since M. Lenormand had taken the place of M. Dudouis[Pg 32] in the detective-service. M. Lenormand was a chief indeed! With him, one was sure of being on the right track. So sure, even, that Gourel stopped the moment that the chief's incentive was no longer behind him.

But the chief was on his way! Gourel took out his watch and calculated the exact time when he would arrive. If only the commissary of police did not get there first, if only the examining-magistrate, who was no doubt already appointed, or the divisional surgeon, did not come to make inopportune discoveries before the chief had time to fix the essential points of the case in his mind!

"Well, Gourel, what are you dreaming about?"

"The chief!"

M. Lenormand was still a young man, if you took stock only of the expression of his face and his eyes gleaming through his spectacles; but he was almost an old man when you saw his bent back, his skin dry and yellow as wax, his grizzled hair and beard, his whole decrepit, hesitating, unhealthy appearance. He had spent his life laboriously in the colonies as government commissary, in the most dangerous posts. He had there acquired a series of fevers; an indomitable energy, notwithstanding his physical weariness; the habit of living alone, of talking little and acting in silence; a certain misanthropy; and, suddenly, at the age of fifty-five, in consequence of the famous case of the three Spaniards at Biskra, a great and well-earned notoriety.

The injustice was then repaired; and he was straightway transferred to Bordeaux, was next appointed deputy in Paris, and lastly, on the death of M. Dudouis, chief of the detective-service. And in each of these posts he displayed such a curious faculty of inventiveness in his proceedings, such resourcefulness, so many[Pg 33] new and original qualities; and above all, he achieved such correct results in the conduct of the last four or five cases with which public opinion had been stirred, that his name was quoted in the same breath with those of the most celebrated detectives.

Gourel, for his part, had no hesitation. Himself a favourite of the chief, who liked him for his frankness and his passive obedience, he set the chief above them all. The chief to him was an idol, an infallible god.

M. Lenormand seemed more tired than usual that day. He sat down wearily, parted the tails of his frock-coat?an old frock-coat, famous for its antiquated cut and its olive-green hue?untied his neckerchief?an equally famous maroon-coloured neckerchief, rested his two hands on his stick, and said:

"Speak!"

Gourel told all that he had seen, and all that he had learnt, and told it briefly, according to the habit which the chief had taught him.

But, when he produced Lupin's card, M. Lenormand gave a start:

"Lupin!"

"Yes, Lupin. The brute's bobbed up again."

"That's all right, that's all right," said M. Lenormand, after a moment's thought.

"That's all right, of course," said Gourel, who loved to add a word of his own to the rare speeches of a superior whose only fault in his eyes was an undue reticence. "That's all right, for at last you will measure your strength with an adversary worthy of you. . . . And Lupin will meet his master. . . . Lupin will cease to exist. . . . Lupin . . ."

"Ferret!" said M. Lenormand, cutting him short.

[Pg 34]It was like an order given by a sportsman to his dog. And Gourel ferreted after the manner of a good dog, a lively and intelligent animal, working under his master's eyes. M. Lenormand pointed his stick to a corner, to an easy chair, just as one points to a bush or a tuft of grass, and Gourel beat up the bush or the tuft of grass with conscientious thoroughness.

"Nothing," said the sergeant, when he finished.

"Nothing for you!" grunted M. Lenormand.

"That's what I meant to say. . . . I know that, for you, chief, there are things that talk like human beings, real living witnesses. For all that, here is a murder well and duly added to our score against Master Lupin."

"The first," observed M. Lenormand.

"The first, yes. . . . But it was bound to come. You can't lead that sort of life without, sooner or later, being driven by circumstances to serious crime. Mr. Kesselbach must have defended himself. . . ."

"No, because he was bound."

"That's true," owned Gourel, somewhat disconcertedly, "and it's rather curious too. . . . Why kill an adversary who has practically ceased to exist? . . . But, no matter, if I had collared him yesterday, when we were face to face at the hall-door . . ."

M. Lenormand had stepped out on the balcony. Then he went to Mr. Kesselbach's bedroom, on the right, and tried the fastenings of the windows and doors.

"The windows of both rooms were shut when I came in," said Gourel.

"Shut, or just pushed to?"

"No one has touched them since. And they are shut, chief."

[Pg 35]A sound of voices brought them back to the sitting-room. Here they found the divisional surgeon, engaged in examining the body, and M. Formerie, the magistrate. M. Formerie exclaimed:

"Arsene Lupin! I am glad that at last a lucky chance has brought me into touch with that scoundrel again! I'll show the fellow the stuff I'm made of! . . . And this time it's a murder! . . . It's a fight between you and me now, Master Lupin!"

M. Formerie had not forgotten the strange adventure of the Princesse de Lamballe's diadem, nor the wonderful way in which Lupin had tricked him a few years before.[1] The thing had remained famous in the annals of the law-courts. People still laughed at it; and in M. Formerie it had left a just feeling of resentment, combined with the longing for a striking revenge.

[1] See Arsene Lupin. By Edgar Jepson and Maurice Leblanc. (Doubleday, Page & Co.).

"The nature of the crime is self-evident," he declared, with a great air of conviction, "and we shall have no difficulty in discovering the motive. So all is well. . . . M. Lenormand, how do you do? . . . I am delighted to see you. . . ."

M. Formerie was not in the least delighted. On the contrary, M. Lenormand's presence did not please him at all, seeing that the chief detective hardly took the trouble to disguise the contempt in which he held him. However, the magistrate drew himself up and, in his most solemn tones:

"So, doctor, you consider that death took place about a dozen hours ago, perhaps more! . . . That, in fact, was my own idea. . . . We are quite agreed. . . . And the instrument of the crime?"

"A knife with a very thin blade, Monsieur le Juge[Pg 36] d'Instruction," replied the surgeon. "Look, the blade has been wiped on the dead man's own handkerchief. . . ."

"Just so . . . just so . . . you can see the mark. . . . And now let us go and question Mr. Kesselbach's secretary and man-servant. I have no doubt that their examination will throw some more light on the case."

Chapman, who together with Edwards, had been moved to his own room, on the left of the sitting-room, had already recovered from his experiences. He described in detail the events of the previous day, Mr. Kesselbach's restlessness, the expected visit of the Colonel and, lastly, the attack of which they had been the victims.

"Aha!" cried M. Formerie. "So there's an accomplice! And you heard his name! . . . Marco, you say? . . . This is very important. When we've got the accomplice, we shall be a good deal further advanced. . . ."

"Yes, but we've not got him," M. Lenormand ventured to remark.

"We shall see. . . . One thing at a time. . . . And then, Mr. Chapman, this Marco went away immediately after M. Gourel had rung the bell?"

"Yes, we heard him go."

"And after he went, did you hear nothing else?"

"Yes . . . from time to time, but vaguel. . . . The door was shut."

"And what sort of noises did you hear?"

"Bursts of voices. The man . . ."

"Call him by his name, Arsene Lupin."

"Arsene Lupin must have telephoned."

"Capital! We will examine the person of the hotel[Pg 37] who has charge of the branch exchange communicating with the outside. And, afterward, did you hear him go out, too?"

"He came in to see if we were still bound; and, a quarter of an hour later, he went away, closing the hall-door after him."

"Yes, as soon as his crime was committed. Good. . . . Good. . . . It all fits in. . . . And, after that?"

"After that, we heard nothing more. . . . The night passed. . . . I fell asleep from exhaustion. . . . So did Edwards. . . . And it was not until this morning . . ."

"Yes, I know. . . . There, it's not going badly . . . it all fits in. . . ."

And, marking off the stages of his investigation, in a tone as though he were enumerating so many victories over the stranger, he muttered thoughtfully:

"The accomplice . . . the telephone . . . the time of the murder . . . the sounds that were heard. . . . Good. . . . Very good. . . . We have still to establish the motive of the crime. . . . In this case, as we have Lupin to deal with, the motive is obvious. M. Lenormand, have you noticed the least sign of anything being broken open?"

"No."

"Then the robbery must have been effected upon the person of the victim himself. Has his pocket-book been found?"

"I left it in the pocket of his jacket," said Gourel.

They all went into the sitting-room, where M. Formerie discovered that the pocket-book contained nothing but visiting-cards and papers establishing the murdered man's identity.

[Pg 38]"That's odd. Mr. Chapman, can you tell us if Mr. Kesselbach had any money on him?"

"Yes. On the previous day?that is, on Monday, the day before yesterday?we went to the Credit Lyonnais, where Mr. Kesselbach hired a safe . . ."

"A safe at the Credit Lyonnais? Good. . . . We must look into that."

"And, before we left, Mr. Kesselbach opened an account and drew out five or six thousand francs in bank-notes."

"Excellent . . . that tells us just what we want to know."

Chapman continued:

"There is another point, Monsieur le Juge d'Instruction. Mr. Kesselbach, who for some days had been very uneasy in his mind?I have told you the reason: a scheme to which he attached the utmost importance?Mr. Kesselbach seemed particularly anxious about two things. There was, first, a little ebony box, which he put away safely at the Credit Lyonnais; and, next, a little black morocco note-case, in which he kept a few papers."

"And where is that?"

"Before Lupin's arrival, he put it, in my presence, into that travelling-bag."

M. Formerie took the bag and felt about in it. The note-case was not there. He rubbed his hands:

"Ah, everything fits in! . . . We know the culprit, the conditions and the motive of the crime. This case won't take long. Are we quite agreed upon everything, M. Lenormand?"

"Upon not one single thing."

There was a moment of stupefaction. The commissary of police had arrived: and, behind him, in[Pg 39] spite of the constables keeping the door, a troop of journalists, and the hotel staff had forced their way in and were standing in the entrance-lobby.

Notorious though the old fellow was for his bluntness?a bluntness which was not without a certain discourtesy and which had already procured him an occasional reprimand in high quarters?the abruptness of this reply took every one aback. And M. Formerie in particular appeared utterly nonplussed:

"Still," he said, "I can see nothing that isn't quite simple. Lupin is the thief. . . ."

"Why did he commit the murder?" M. Lenormand flung at him.

"In order to commit the theft."

"I beg your pardon; the witnesses' story proves that the theft took place before the murder. Mr. Kesselbach was first bound and gagged, then robbed. Why should Lupin, who has never resorted to murder, choose this time to kill a man whom he had rendered helpless and whom he had already robbed?"

The examining-magistrate stroked his long, fair whiskers, with the gesture customary to him when a question seemed incapable of solution. He replied in a thoughtful tone:

"There are several answers to that. . . ."

"What are they?"

"It depends . . . it depends upon a number of facts as yet unknown. . . . And, moreover, the objection applies only to the nature of the motives. We are agreed as to the remainder."

"No."

This time, again, the denial was flat, blunt, almost impolite; so much so that the magistrate was abso[Pg 40]lutely nonplussed, dared not even raise a protest, and remained abashed in the presence of this strange collaborator. At last he said:

"We all have our theories. I should like to know yours."

"I have none."

The chief detective rose and, leaning on his stick, took a few steps through the room. All the people around him were silent. . . . And it was rather curious, in a group in which, after all, his position was only that of an auxiliary, a subordinate, to see this ailing, decrepit, elderly man dominate the others by the sheer force of an authority which they had to feel, even though they did not accept it. After a long pause he said:

"I should like to inspect the rooms which adjoin this suite."

The manager showed him the plan of the hotel. The only way out of the right-hand bedroom, which was Mr. Kesselbach's, was through the little entrance-hall of the suite. But the bedroom on the left, the room occupied by the secretary, communicated with another apartment.

"Let us inspect it," said M. Lenormand.

M. Formerie could not help shrugging his shoulders and growling:

"But the communicating door is bolted and the window locked."

"Let us inspect it," repeated M. Lenormand.

He was taken into the apartment, which was the first of the five rooms reserved for Mrs. Kesselbach. Then, at his request, he was taken to the rooms leading out of it. All the communicating doors were bolted on both sides.

[Pg 41]"Are not any of these rooms occupied?" he asked.

"No."

"Where are the keys?"

"The keys are always kept in the office."

"Then no one can have got in? . . ."

"No one, except the floor-waiter who airs and dusts the rooms."

"Send for him, please."

The man, whose name was Gustave Beudot, replied that he had closed the windows of five rooms on the previous day in accordance with his general instructions.

"At what time?"

"At six o'clock in the evening."

"And you noticed nothing?"

"No, sir."

"And, this morning . . . ?"

"This morning, I opened the windows at eight o'clock exactly."

"And you found nothing?"

He hesitated. He was pressed with questions and ended by admitting:

"Well, I picked up a cigarette-case near the fireplace in 420. . . . I intended to take it to the office this evening."

"Have you it on you?"

"No, it is in my room. It is a gun-metal case. It has a space for tobacco and cigarette-papers on one side and for matches on the other. There are two initials in gold: an L and an M. . . ."

"What's that?"

Chapman had stepped forward. He seemed greatly surprised and, questioning the servant:

"A gun-metal cigarette-case, you say?"

"Yes."

[Pg 42]"With three compartments?for tobacco, cigarette-papers, and matches. . . . Russian tobacco, wasn't it, very fine and light?"

"Yes."

"Go and fetch it. . . . I should like to see it for myself . . . to make sure. . . ."

At a sign from the chief detective, Gustave Beudot left the room.

M. Lenormand sat down and his keen eyes examined the carpet, the furniture and the curtains. He asked:

"This is room 420, is it not?"

"Yes."

The magistrate grinned:

"I should very much like to know what connection you establish between this incident and the tragedy. Five locked doors separate us from the room in which Mr. Kesselbach was murdered."

M. Lenormand did not condescend to reply.

Time passed. Gustave did not return.

"Where does he sleep?" asked the chief detective.

"On the sixth floor," answered the manager. "The room is on the Rue de Judee side: above this, therefore. It's curious that he's not back yet."

"Would you have the kindness to send some one to see?"

The manager went himself, accompanied by Chapman. A few minutes after, he returned alone, running, with every mark of consternation on his face.

"Well?"

"Dead!"

"Murdered?"

"Yes."

"Oh, by thunder, how clever these scoundrels are!" roared M. Lenormand, "Off with you, Gourel, and[Pg 43] have the doors of the hotel locked. . . . Watch every outlet. . . . And you, Mr. Manager, please take us to Gustave Beudot's room."

The manager led the way. But as they left the room, M. Lenormand stooped and picked up a tiny little round piece of paper, on which his eyes had already fixed themselves.

It was a label surrounded with a blue border and marked with the number 813. He put it in his pocket, on chance, and joined the others. . . .

A small wound in the back, between the shoulder-blades. . . .

"Exactly the same wound as Mr. Kesselbach's," declared the doctor.

"Yes," said M. Lenormand, "it was the same hand that struck the blow and the same weapon was used."

Judging by the position of the body, the man had been surprised when on his knees before the bed, feeling under the mattress for the cigarette-case which he had hidden there. His arm was still caught between the mattress and the bed, but the cigarette-case was not to be found.

"That cigarette-case must have been devilish compromising!" timidly suggested M. Formerie, who no longer dared put forward any definite opinion.

"Well, of course!" said the chief detective.

"At any rate, we know the initials: an L and an M. And with that, together with what Mr. Chapman appears to know, we shall easily learn. . . ."

M. Lenormand gave a start:

"Chapman! But where is he?"

[Pg 44]They looked in the passage among the groups of people crowded together. Chapman was not there.

"Mr. Chapman came with me," said the manager.

"Yes, yes, I know, but he did not come back with you."

"No, I left him with the corpse."

"You left him! . . . Alone?"

"I said to him, 'Stay here . . . don't move.'"

"And was there no one about? Did you see no one?"

"In the passage? No."

"But in the other attics? . . . Or else, look here, round that corner: was there no one hiding there?"

M. Lenormand seemed greatly excited. He walked up and down, he opened the doors of the rooms. And, suddenly, he set off at a run, with an agility of which no one would have thought him capable. He rattled down the six storeys, followed at a distance by the manager and the examining-magistrate. At the bottom, he found Gourel in front of the main door.

"Has no one gone out?"

"No, chief."

"What about the other door, in the Rue Orvieto?"

"I have posted Dieuzy there."

"With firm orders?"

"Yes, chief."

The huge hall of the hotel was crowded with anxious visitors, all commenting on the more or less accurate versions that had reached them of the crime. All the servants had been summoned by telephone and were arriving, one by one. M. Lenormand questioned them without delay. None of them was able to supply the least information. But a fifth-floor chambermaid appeared. Ten minutes earlier, or thereabouts, she had passed two gentlemen who were coming down the[Pg 45] servants' staircase between the fifth and the fourth floors.

"They came down very fast. The one in front was holding the other by the hand. I was surprised to see those two gentlemen on the servants' staircase."

"Would you know them again?"

"Not the first one. He had his head turned the other way. He was a thin, fair man. He wore a soft black hat . . . and black clothes."

"And the other?"

"Oh, the other was an Englishman, with a big, clean-shaven face and a check suit. He had no hat on."

The description obviously referred to Chapman.

The woman added:

"He looked . . . he looked quite funny . . . as if he was mad."

Gourel's word was not enough for M. Lenormand. One after the other, he questioned the under-porters standing at the two doors:

"Did you know Mr. Chapman?"

"Yes, sir, he always spoke to us."

"And you have not seen him go out?"

"No, sir. He has not been out this morning."

M. Lenormand turned to the commissary of police: "How many men have you with you, Monsieur le Commissaire?"

"Four."

"That's not sufficient. Telephone to your secretary to send you all the men available. And please be so good as yourself to organize the closest watch at every outlet. The state of siege, Monsieur le Commissaire. . . ."

"But I say," protested the manager, "my customers?"

[Pg 46]"I don't care a hang, sir, for your customers! My duty comes before everything; and my duty is at all costs to arrest. . . ."

"So you believe . . ." the examining-magistrate ventured to interpolate.

"I don't believe, monsieur . . . I am sure that the perpetrator of both the murders is still in the hotel."

"But then Chapman . . ."

"At this moment, I cannot guarantee that Chapman is still alive. In any case, it is only a question of minutes, of seconds. . . . Gourel, take two men and search all the rooms on the fourth floor. . . . Mr. Manager, send one of your clerks with them. . . . As for the other floors, I shall proceed as soon as we are reenforced. Come, Gourel, off with you, and keep your eyes open. . . . It's big game you're hunting!"

Gourel and his men hurried away. M. Lenormand himself remained in the hall, near the office. This time, he did not think of sitting down, as his custom was. He walked from the main entrance to the door in the Rue Orvieto and returned to the point from which he had started. At intervals he gave instructions:

"Mr. Manager, see that the kitchens are watched. They may try to escape that way. . . . Mr. Manager, instruct your young lady at the telephone not to put any of the people in the hotel into communication with outside subscribers. If a call comes from the outside, she can connect the caller with the person asked for, but she must take a note of that person's name. . . . Mr. Manager, have a list made out of all your visitors whose name begins with an L or an M."

The tension caught the spectators by the throat,[Pg 47] as they stood clustered in the middle of the hall, silent and gasping for breath, shaking with fear at the least sound, obsessed by the infernal image of the murderer. Where was he hiding? Would he show himself? Was he not one of themselves: this one, perhaps . . . or that one? . . .

And all eyes were turned on the gray-haired gentleman in spectacles, an olive-green frock-coat and a maroon-colored neckerchief, who was walking about, with his bent back, on a pair of shaky legs.

At times, one of the waiters accompanying Sergeant Gourel on his search would come running up.

"Any news?" asked M. Lenormand.

"No, sir, we've found nothing."

The manager made two attempts to induce him to relax his orders regarding the doors. The situation was becoming intolerable. The office was filled with loudly-protesting visitors, who had business outside, or who had arranged to leave Paris.

"I don't care a hang!" said M. Lenormand again.

"But I know them all."

"I congratulate you."

"You are exceeding your powers."

"I know."

"The law will decide against you."

"I'm convinced of that."

"Monsieur le Juge d'Instruction himself. . . ."

"M. Formerie had better not interfere. He can mind his own business, which is to examine the servants, as he is doing now. Besides, it has nothing to do with the examining-magistrate, it has to do with the police. It's my affair."

Just then a squad of police burst into the hotel. The chief detective divided them into several sections[Pg 48] which he sent up to the third floor. Then, addressing the commissary of police:

"My dear commissary, I leave the task of watching the doors to you. No weakness, I entreat you. I will take the responsibility for anything that happens."

And, turning to the lift, he had himself conveyed to the second floor.

It was a difficult business and a long one, for they had to open the doors of the sixty bedrooms, to inspect all the bathrooms, all the recesses, all the cupboards, every nook and corner.

And it was also fruitless. An hour later, on the stroke of twelve, M. Lenormand had just done the second floor; the other parties had not yet finished the upper floors; and no discovery had been made.

M. Lenormand hesitated: had the murderer retreated to the attics?

He was deciding, however, to go downstairs, when he was told that Mrs. Kesselbach had just arrived with her lady-companion. Edwards, the old confidential man-servant, had accepted the task of informing her of Mr. Kesselbach's death.

M. Lenormand found her in one of the drawing rooms, overcome by the unexpected shock, dry-eyed, but with her features wrung with grief and her body trembling all over, as though convulsed with fever. She was a rather tall, dark woman; and her black and exceedingly beautiful eyes were filled with gold, with little gold spots, like spangles gleaming in the dark. Her husband had met her in Holland, where Dolores was born of an old family of Spanish origin, the Amontis. He fell in love with her at first sight; and for four years[Pg 49] the harmony between them, built up of mutual affection and devotion, had never been interrupted.

M. Lenormand introduced himself. She looked at him without replying; and he was silent, for she did not appear, in her stupor, to understand what he said. Then, suddenly, she began to shed copious tears and asked to be taken to her husband.

In the hall, M. Lenormand found Gourel, who was looking for him and who rushed at him with a hat which he held in his hand:

"I picked this up, chief. . . . There's no doubt whom it belongs to, is there?"

It was a soft, black felt hat and resembled the description given. There was no lining or label inside it.

"Where did you pick it up?"

"On the second-floor landing of the servants' staircase."

"Nothing on the other floors?"

"Nothing. We've searched everywhere. There is only the first floor left. And this hat shows that the man went down so far. We're burning, chief!"

"I think so."

At the foot of the stairs M. Lenormand stopped:

"Go back to the commissary and give him my orders: he must post two men at the foot of each of the four staircases, revolver in hand. And they are to fire, if necessary. Understand this, Gourel: if Chapman is not saved and if the fellow escapes, it means my resignation. I've been wool-gathering for over two hours."

He went up the stairs. On the first floor he met two policemen leaving a bedroom, accompanied by a servant of the hotel.

The passage was deserted. The hotel staff dared not[Pg 50] venture into it. Some of the permanent visitors had locked themselves in their rooms; and the police had to knock for a long time and proclaim who they were before they could get the doors opened.

Farther on, M. Lenormand saw another group of policemen searching the maid's pantry and, at the end of a long passage, he saw some more men who were approaching the turning, that is to say, that part of the passage which contained the rooms overlooking the Rue de Judee.

And, suddenly, he heard these men shouting; and they disappeared at a run.

He hurried after them.

The policemen had stopped in the middle of the passage. At their feet, blocking their way, with its face on the carpet, lay a corpse.

M. Lenormand bent down and took the lifeless head in his hands:

"Chapman," he muttered. "He is dead."

He examined the body. A white knitted silk muffler was tied round the neck. He undid it. Red stains appeared; and he saw that the muffler held a thick wad of cotton-wool in position against the nape of the neck. The wad was soaked with blood.

Once again there was the same little wound, clean, frank and pitiless.

M. Formerie and the commissary were at once told and came hastening up.

"No one gone out?" asked the chief detective. "No surprise?"

"No," said the commissary. "There are two men on guard at the foot of each staircase."

"Perhaps he has gone up again?" said M. Formerie.

"No! . . . No! . . ."

[Pg 51]"But some one must have met him. . . ."

"No. . . . This all happened quite a long time ago. The hands are cold. . . . The murder must have been committed almost immediately after the other . . . as soon as the two men came here by the servants' staircase."

"But the body would have been seen! Think, fifty people must have passed this spot during the last two hours. . . ."

"The body was not here."

"Then where was it?"

"Why, how can I tell?" snapped the chief detective. "Do as I'm doing, look for yourself! You can't find things by talking."

He furiously patted the knob of his stick with a twitching hand; and he stood there, with his eyes fixed on the body, silent and thoughtful. At last he spoke:

"Monsieur le Commissaire, be so good as to have the victim taken to an empty room. Let them fetch the doctor. Mr. Manager, would you mind opening the doors of all the rooms on this passage for me?"

On the left were three bedrooms and two sitting-rooms, forming an empty suite, which M. Lenormand inspected. On the right were four bedrooms. Two were occupied respectively by a M. Reverdat and an Italian, Baron Giacomini, who were both then out. In the third room they found an elderly English maiden lady still in bed; and, in the fourth, an Englishman who was placidly reading and smoking and who had not been in the least disturbed by the noises in the passage. His name was Major Parbury.

No amount of searching or questioning led to any result. The old maid had heard nothing before the exclamations of the policeman: no noise of a struggle,[Pg 52] no cry of pain, no sound of quarreling; and Major Parbury neither.

Moreover, there was no suspicious clue found, no trace of blood, nothing to lead them to suppose that the unfortunate Chapman had been in one of those rooms.

"It's queer," muttered the examining-magistrate, "it's all very queer. . . ." And he confessed, ingenuously, "I feel more and more at sea. . . . There is a whole series of circumstances that are partly beyond me. What do you make of it, M. Lenormand?"

M. Lenormand was on the point of letting off one of those pointed rejoinders in which he was wont to give vent to his chronic ill-temper, when Gourel appeared upon the scene, all out of breath.

"Chief," he panted, "they've found this . . . downstairs . . . in the office . . . on a chair. . . ."

It was a parcel of moderate dimensions, wrapped up in a piece of black serge.

"Did they open it?" asked the chief.

"Yes, but when they saw what the parcel contained, they did it up again exactly as it was . . . fastened very tight, as you can see. . . ."

"Untie it."

Gourel removed the wrapper and disclosed a black diagonal jacket and trousers, which had evidently been packed up in a hurry, as the creases in the cloth showed. In the middle was a towel, covered with blood, which had been dipped in water, in order, no doubt, to destroy the marks of the hands that had been wiped on it. Inside the napkin was a steel dagger, with a handle encrusted with gold. This also was red with blood, the blood of three men stabbed within[Pg 53] the space of a few hours by an invisible hand, amid the crowd of three hundred people moving about in the huge hotel.

Edwards, the man-servant, at once identified the dagger as belonging to Mr. Kesselbach. He had seen it on the table on the previous day, before the assault committed by Lupin.

"Mr. Manager," said the chief detective, "the restriction is over. Gourel, go and give orders to leave the doors free."

"So you think that Lupin has succeeded in getting out?" asked M. Formerie.

"No. The perpetrator of the three murders which we have discovered is in one of the rooms of the hotel, or, rather, he is among the visitors in the hall or in the reception-rooms. In my opinion, he was staying in the hotel."

"Impossible! Besides, where would he have changed his clothes? And what clothes would he have on now?"

"I don't know, but I am stating a fact."

"And you are letting him go? Why, he'll just walk out quietly, with his hands in his pockets!"

"The one who walks away like that, without his luggage, and who does not return, will be the criminal. Mr. Manager, please come with me to the office. I should like to make a close inspection of your visitors' book."

In the office, M. Lenormand found a few letters addressed to Mr. Kesselbach. He handed them to the examining-magistrate. There was also a parcel that had just come by the Paris parcel-post. The paper in which it was packed was partly torn; and M. Lenormand saw that it held a small ebony box, engraved with the name of Rudolf Kesselbach. Feeling curious,[Pg 54] he opened the parcel. The box contained the fragments of a looking-glass which had evidently been fixed to the inside of the lid. It also contained the card of Arsene Lupin.

But one detail seemed to strike the chief detective. On the outside, at the bottom of the box, was a little blue-edged label, similar to the label which he had picked up in the room on the fourth floor where the cigarette-case was found, and this label bore the same number, 813.