CHAPTER II. The Blue Diamond 4/4

The countess collected her memory:

"Yes ... as a matter of fact.... I think she was the first to mention it to me."

"I note your answer, madame," said Ganimard. "So it is quite certain that it was Mme. de Real who first spoke to you of the ring and advised you to buy it."

"Still ... my friend is incapable...."

"I beg your pardon, I beg your pardon, Mme. de Real is only your chance acquaintance and not an intimate friend, as the newspapers stated, thus diverting suspicion from her. You have only known her since last winter. Now I can undertake to prove to you that all that she has told you about herself, her past, her connections is absolutely false; that Mme. Blanche de Real did not exist before she met you; and that she has ceased to exist at this present moment."

"Well?" said M. Dudouis, "what next?"

"What next?" echoed Ganimard.

"Yes, what next?... This is all very interesting; but what has it to do with the case? If Mme. de Real took the ring, why was it found in Herr Bleichen's tooth-powder? Come, Ganimard! A person who takes the trouble to steal the blue diamond keeps it. What have you to answer to that?"

"I, nothing. But Mme. de Real will answer."

"Then she exists?"

"She exists ... without existing. In a few words, here it is: three days ago, reading the paper which I read every day, I saw at the head of the list of arrivals at Trouville, 'Hotel Beaurivage, Mme. de Real,' and so on.... You can imagine that I was at Trouville that same evening, questioning the manager of the Beaurivage. According to the description and certain clues which I gathered, this Mme. de Real was indeed the person whom I was looking for, but she had gone from the hotel, leaving her address in Paris, 3, Rue du Colisee. On Wednesday, I called at that address and learnt that there was no Madame de Real, but just a woman called Real, who lived on the second floor, followed the occupation of a diamond-broker and was often away. Only the day before, she had come back from a journey. Yesterday, I rang at her door and, under a false name, offered my services to Mme. de Real as an intermediary to introduce her to people who were in a position to buy valuable stones. We made an appointment to meet here to-day for a first transaction."

"Oh, so you expect her?"

"At half-past five."

"And are you sure?..."

"That it is Mme. de Real of the Chateau de Crozon? I have indisputable proofs. But ... hark!... Folenfant's signal!..."

A whistle had sounded. Ganimard rose briskly:

"We have not a moment to lose. M. and Madame de Crozon, go into the next room, please. You too, M. d'Hautrec ... and you also, M. Gerbois.... The door will remain open and, at the first sign, I will ask you to intervene. Do you stay, chief, please."

"And, if anyone else comes in?" asked M. Dudouis.

"No one will. This is a new establishment and the proprietor, who is a friend of mine, will not let a living soul come up the stairs ... except the blonde lady."

"The blonde lady? What do you mean?"

"The blonde lady herself, chief, the friend and accomplice of Arsene Lupin, the mysterious blonde lady, against whom I have positive proofs, but against whom I want, over and above those and in your presence, to collect the evidence of all the people whom she has robbed."

He leant out of the window:

"She is coming.... She has gone in.... She can't escape now: Folenfant and Dieuzy are guarding the door.... The blonde lady is ours, chief; we've got her!"

Almost at that moment, a woman appeared upon the threshold, a tall, thin woman, with a very pale face and violent golden hair.

Ganimard was stifled by such emotion that he stood dumb, incapable of articulating the least word. She was there, in front of him, at his disposal! What a victory over Arsene Lupin! And what a revenge! And, at the same time, that victory seemed to him to have been won with such ease that he wondered whether the blonde lady was not going to slip through his fingers, thanks to one of those miracles which Lupin was in the habit of performing.

She stood waiting, meanwhile, surprised at the silence, and looked around her without disguising her uneasiness.

"She will go! She will disappear!" thought Ganimard, in dismay.

Suddenly, he placed himself between her and the door. She turned and tried to go out.

"No, no," he said. "Why go?"

"But, monsieur, I don't understand your ways. Let me pass...."

"There is no reason for you to go, madame, and every reason, on the contrary, why you should stay."

"But ..."

"It's no use, you are not going."

Turning very pale, she sank into a chair and stammered:

"What do you want?"

Ganimard triumphed. He had got the blonde lady. Mastering himself, he said:

"Let me introduce the friend of whom I spoke to you, the one who would like to buy some jewels ... especially diamonds. Did you obtain the one you promised me?"

"No ... no.... I don't know.... I forget...."

"Oh, yes.... Just try.... Someone you knew was to bring you a coloured diamond.... 'Something like the blue diamond,' I said, laughing, and you answered, 'Exactly. I may have what you want.' Do you remember?"

She was silent. A little wristbag which she was holding in her hand fell to the ground. She picked it up quickly and pressed it to her. Her fingers trembled a little.

"Come," said Ganimard. "I see that you do not trust us, Madame de Real. I will set you a good example and let you see what I have got to show."

He took a piece of paper from his pocketbook and unfolded it:

"Here, first of all, is some of the hair of Antoinette Brehat, torn out by the baron and found clutched in the dead man's hand. I have seen Mlle. de Gerbois: she has most positively recognized the colour of the hair of the blonde lady ... the same colour as yours, for that matter ... exactly the same colour."

Mme. de Real watched him with a stupid expression, as though she really did not grasp the sense of his words. He continued:

"And now here are two bottles of scent. They are empty, it is true, and have no labels; but enough of the scent still clings to them to have enabled Mlle. Gerbois, this very morning, to recognize the perfume of the blonde lady who accompanied her on her fortnight's excursion. Now, one of these bottles comes from the room which Mme. de Real occupied at the Chateau de Crozon and the other from the room which you occupied at the Hotel Beaurivage."

"What are you talking about?... The blonde lady ... the Chateau de Crozon...."

The inspector, without replying, spread four sheets of paper on the table.

"Lastly," he said, "here, on these four sheets, we have a specimen of the handwriting of Antoinette Brehat, another of the lady who sent a note to Baron Herschmann during the sale of the blue diamond, another of Mme. de Real, at the time of her stay at Crozon, and the fourth ... your own, madame ... your name and address given by yourself to the hall-porter of the Hotel Beaurivage at Trouville. Now, please compare these four handwritings. They are one and the same."

"But you are mad, sir, you are mad! What does all this mean?"

"It means, madame," cried Ganimard, with a great outburst, "that the blonde lady, the friend and accomplice of Arsene Lupin, is none other than yourself."

He pushed open the door of the next room, rushed at M. Gerbois, shoved him along by the shoulders and, planting him in front of Mme. Real:

"M. Gerbois, do you recognize the person who took away your daughter and whom you saw at Maitre Detinan's?"


There was a commotion of which every one felt the shock. Ganimard staggered back:

"No?... Is it possible?... Come, just think...."

"I have thought.... Madame is fair, like the blonde lady ... and pale, like her ... but she doesn't resemble her in the least."

"I can't believe it ... a mistake like that is inconceivable.... M. d'Hautrec, do you recognize Antoinette Brehat?"

"I have seen Antoinette Brehat at my uncle's ... this is not she."

"And madame is not Mme. de Real, either," declared the Comte de Crozon.

This was the finishing stroke. It stunned Ganimard, who stood motionless, with hanging head and shifting eyes. Of all his contrivances, nothing remained. The whole edifice was tumbling about his shoulders.

M. Dudouis rose:

"I must beg you to forgive us, madame. There has been a regrettable confusion of identities, which I will ask you to forget. But what I cannot well understand is your agitation ... the strangeness of your manner since you arrived...."

"Why, monsieur, I was frightened ... there is over a hundred thousand francs' worth of jewels in my bag ... and your friend's attitude was not very reassuring."

"But your continual absences?..."

"Surely my occupation demands them?"

M. Dudouis had no reply to make. He turned to his subordinate:

"You have made your inquiries with a deplorable want of thoroughness, Ganimard, and your behaviour toward madame just now was uncouth. You shall give me an explanation in my office."

The interview was over and the chief of the detective service was about to take his leave, when a really disconcerting thing happened. Mme. Real went up to the inspector and said:

"Do I understand your name to be M. Ganimard?... Did I catch the name right?"


"In that case, this letter must be for you. I received it this morning, addressed as you see: 'M. Justin Ganimard, care of Mme. Real.' I thought it was a joke, as I did not know you under that name, but I have no doubt the writer, whoever he is, knew of your appointment."

By a singular intuition, Justin Ganimard was very nearly seizing the letter and destroying it. He dared not do so, however, before his superior and he tore open the envelope. The letter contained the following words, which he uttered in a hardly intelligible voice:

"There was once a Blonde Lady, a Lupin and a Ganimard. Now the naughty Ganimard wanted to harm the pretty Blonde Lady and the good Lupin did not wish it. So the good Lupin, who was anxious for the Blonde Lady to become friends with the Comtesse de Crozon, made her take the name of Mme. de Real, which is the same?or nearly?as that of an honest tradeswoman whose hair is golden and her features pale. And the good Lupin said to himself, 'If ever the naughty Ganimard is on the track of the Blonde Lady, how useful it will be for me to shunt him on to the track of the honest tradeswoman!' A wise precaution, which has borne fruit. A little note sent to the naughty Ganimard's newspaper, a bottle of scent forgotten on purpose at the Hotel Beaurivage by the real Blonde Lady, Mme. Real's name and address written by the real Blonde Lady in the visitors' book at the hotel, and the trick is done. What do you say to it, Ganimard? I wanted to tell you the story in detail, knowing that, with your sense of humour, you would be the first to laugh at it. It is, indeed, a pretty story and I confess that, for my part, it has diverted me vastly.

"My best thanks to you, then, my dear friend, and kind regards to that capital M. Dudouis.

"Arsene Lupin."
"But he knows everything!" moaned Ganimard, who did not think of laughing. "He knows things that I have not told to a soul! How could he know that I would ask you to come, chief? How could he know that I had discovered the first scent-bottle?... How could he know?..."

He stamped about, tore his hair, a prey to the most tragic distress.

M. Dudouis took pity on him:

"Come, Ganimard, console yourself. We must try to do better next time."

And the chief detective went away, accompanied by Mme. Real.

Ten minutes elapsed, while Ganimard read Lupin's letter over and over again and M. and Mme. de Crozon, M. d'Hautrec and M. Gerbois sustained an animated conversation in a corner. At last, the count crossed over to the inspector and said:

"The upshot of all this, my dear sir, is that we are no further than we were."

"Pardon me. My inquiry has established the fact that the blonde lady is the undoubted heroine of these adventures and that Lupin is directing her. That is a huge step forward."

"And not the smallest use to us. If anything, it makes the mystery darker still. The blonde lady commits murder to steal the blue diamond and does not steal it. She steals it and does so to get rid of it for another's benefit."

"What can I do?"

"Nothing, but some one else might...."

"What do you mean?"

The count hesitated, but the countess said, point blank:

"There is one man, one man only, in my opinion, besides yourself, who would be capable of fighting Lupin and reducing him to cry for mercy. M. Ganimard, would you very much mind if we called in the assistance of Holmlock Shears?"

He was taken aback:

"No ... no ... only ... I don't exactly understand...."

"Well, it's like this: all this mystery is making me quite ill. I want to know where I am. M. Gerbois and M. d'Hautrec have the same wish and we have come to an agreement to apply to the famous English detective."

"You are right, madame," said the inspector, with a loyalty that did him credit; "you are right. Old Ganimard is not clever enough to fight against Arsene Lupin. The question is, will Holmlock Shears be more successful? I hope so, for I have the greatest admiration for him.... Still ... it's hardly likely...."

"It's hardly likely that he will succeed?"

"That's what I think. I consider that a duel between Holmlock Shears and Arsene Lupin can only end in one way. The Englishman will be beaten."

"In any case, can he rely on you?"

"Certainly, madame. I will assist him to the very best of my power."

"Do you know his address?"

"Yes; 219, Parker Street."

That evening, the Comte and Comtesse de Crozon withdrew the charge against Herr Bleichen and a collective letter was addressed to Holmlock Shears.

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