CHAPTER IX. Sante Palace

There was one wild burst of laughter over the whole face of the world.

True, the capture of Arsene Lupin made a big sensation; and the public did not grudge the police the praise which they deserved for this revenge so long hoped-for and now so fully obtained. The great adventurer was caught. That extraordinary, genial, invisible hero was shivering, like any ordinary criminal, between the four walls of a prison cell, crushed in his turn by that formidable power which is called the law and which, sooner or later, by inevitable necessity shatters the obstacles opposed to it and destroys the work of its adversaries.

All this was said, printed, repeated and discussed ad nauseam. The prefect of police was created a commander, M. Weber an officer of the Legion of Honor. The skill and courage of their humblest coadjutors were extolled to the skies. Cheers were raised and pæans of victory struck up. Articles were written and speeches made.

Very well. But one thing, nevertheless, rose above the wonderful concert of praise, these noisy demonstrations of satisfaction; and that was an immense, spontaneous, inextinguishable and tumultuous roar of laughter.

Arsene Lupin had been chief of the detective-service for four years!!!

[Pg 220]He had been chief detective for four years and, really, legally, he was chief detective still, with all the rights which the title confers, enjoying the esteem of his chiefs, the favor of the government and the admiration of the public.

For four years, the public peace and the defence of property had been entrusted to Arsene Lupin. He saw that the law was carried out. He protected the innocent and pursued the guilty.

And what services he had rendered! Never was order less disturbed, never was crime discovered with greater certainty and rapidity. The reader need but take back his mind to the Denizou case, the robbery at the Credit Lyonnais, the attack on the Orleans express, the murder of Baron Dorf, forming a series of unforeseen and overwhelming triumphs, of magnificent feats of prowess fit to compare with the most famous victories of the most renowned detectives.[6]

[6] The murder of Baron Dorf, that mysterious and disconcerting affair, will one day be the subject of a story which will give an idea of Arsene Lupin's astonishing qualities as a detective.

Not so very long before, in a speech delivered at the time of the fire at the Louvre and the capture of the incendiaries, Valenglay, the prime minister, had said, speaking in defence of the somewhat arbitrary manner in which M. Lenormand had acted on that occasion:

"With his great powers of discernment, his energy, his qualities of decision and execution, his unexpected methods, his inexhaustible resources, M. Lenormand reminds us of the only man who, if he were still alive, could hope to hold his own against him: I mean Arsene Lupin. M. Lenormand is an Arsene Lupin in the service of society."

[Pg 221]And, lo and behold, M. Lenormand was none other than Arsene Lupin!

That he was a Russian prince, who cared! Lupin was an old hand at such changes of personality as that. But chief detective! What a delicious irony! What a whimsical humor in the conduct of that extraordinary life!

M. Lenormand! . . . Arsene Lupin! . . .

People were now able to explain to themselves the apparently miraculous feats of intelligence which had quite recently bewildered the crowd and baffled the police. They understood how his accomplice had been juggled away in the middle of the Palais de Justice itself, in broad daylight and on the appointed day. Had he himself not said:

"My process is so ingenious and so simple. . . . How surprised people will be on the day when I am free to speak! 'Is that all?' I shall be asked. That is all; but it had to be thought of."

It was, indeed, childishly simple: all you had to do was to be chief of the detective-service.

Well, Lupin was chief of the detective-service; and every police-officer obeying his orders had made himself the involuntary and unconscious accomplice of Arsene Lupin.

What a comedy! What admirable bluff! It was the monumental and consoling farce of these drab times of ours. Lupin in prison, Lupin irretrievably conquered was, in spite of himself, the great conqueror. From his cell he shone over Paris. He was more than ever the idol, more than ever the master.

When Arsene Lupin awoke next morning, in his room at the "Sante Palace," as he at once nicknamed[Pg 222] it, he had a very clear vision of the enormous sensation which would be produced by his arrest under the double name of Sernine and Lenormand and the double title of prince and chief of the detective-service.

He rubbed his hands and gave vent to his thoughts:

"A man can have no better companion in his loneliness than the approval of his contemporaries. O fame! The sun of all living men! . . ."

Seen by daylight, his cell pleased him even better than at night. The window, placed high up in the wall, afforded a glimpse of the branches of a tree, through which peeped the blue of the sky above. The walls were white. There was only one table and one chair, both fastened to the floor. But everything was quite nice and clean.

"Come," he said, "a little rest-cure here will be rather charming. . . . But let us see to our toilet. . . . Have I all I want? . . . No. . . . In that case, ring twice for the chambermaid."

He pressed the button of an apparatus beside the door, which released a signaling-disc in the corridor.

After a moment, bolts and bars were drawn outside, a key turned in the lock and a warder appeared.

"Hot water, please," said Lupin.

The other looked at him with an air of mingled amazement and rage.

"Oh," said Lupin, "and a bath-towel! By Jove, there's no bath-towel!"

The man growled:

"You're getting at me, aren't you? You'd better be careful!"

He was going away, when Lupin caught him roughly by the arm:

[Pg 223]"Here! A hundred francs if you'll post a letter for me."

He took out a hundred-franc note, which he had concealed during the search, and offered it to him.

"Where's the letter?" said the warder, taking the money.

"Just give me a moment to write it."

He sat down at the table, scribbled a few words in pencil on a sheet of paper, put it in an envelope and addressed the letter:

"To Monsieur S. B. 42,
"Poste Restante,

The warder took the letter and walked away.

"That letter," said Lupin to himself, "will reach destination as safely as if I delivered it myself. I shall have the reply in an hour at latest: just the time I want to take a good look into my position."

He sat down on his chair and, in an undertone, summed up the situation as follows:

"When all is said and done, I have two adversaries to fight at the present moment. There is, first, society, which holds me and which I can afford to laugh at. Secondly, there is a person unknown, who does not hold me, but whom I am not inclined to laugh at in the very least. It is he who told the police that I was Sernine. It was he who guessed that I was M. Lenormand. It was he who locked the door of the underground passage and it was he who had me clapped into prison."

Arsene Lupin reflected for a second and then continued:

[Pg 224]"So, at long last, the struggle lies between him and me. And, to keep up that struggle, that is to say, to discover and get to the bottom of the Kesselbach case, here am I, a prisoner, while he is free, unknown, and inaccessible, and holds the two trump-cards which I considered mine: Pierre Leduc and old Steinweg. . . . In short, he is near the goal, after finally pushing me back."

A fresh contemplative pause, followed by a fresh soliloquy:

"The position is far from brilliant. On the one side, everything; on the other, nothing. Opposite me, a man of my own strength, or stronger, because he has not the same scruples that hamper me. And I am without weapons to attack him with."

He repeated the last sentence several times, in a mechanical voice, and then stopped and, taking his forehead between his hands, sat for a long time wrapped in thought.

"Come in, Mr. Governor," he said, seeing the door open.

"Were you expecting me?"

"Why, I wrote to you, Mr. Governor, asking you to come! I felt certain that the warder would give you my letter. I was so certain of it that I put your initials, S. B., and your age, forty-two, on the envelope!"

The governor's name, in point of fact, was Stanislas Borely, and he was forty-two years of age. He was a pleasant-looking man, with a very gentle character, who treated the prisoners with all the indulgence possible.

He said to Lupin:

"Your opinion of my subordinate's integrity was[Pg 225] quite correct. Here is your money. It shall be handed to you at your release. . . . You will now go through the searching-room again."

Lupin went with M. Borely to the little room reserved for this purpose, undressed and, while his clothes were inspected with justifiable suspicion, himself underwent a most fastidious examination.

He was then taken back to his cell and M. Borely said:

"I feel easier. That's done."

"And very well done, Mr. Governor. Your men perform this sort of duty with a delicacy for which I should like to thank them by giving them a small token of my satisfaction."

He handed a hundred-franc note to M. Borely, who jumped as though he had been shot:

"Oh! . . . But . . . where does that come from?"

"No need to rack your brains, Mr. Governor. A man like myself, leading the life that I do, is always prepared for any eventuality: and no mishap, however painful?not even imprisonment?can take him unawares."

Seizing the middle finger of his left hand between the thumb and forefinger of the right, he pulled it off smartly and presented it calmly to M. Borely:

"Don't start like that, Mr. Governor. This is not my finger, but just a tube, made of gold-beater's skin and cleverly colored, which fits exactly over my middle finger and gives the illusion of a real finger." And he added, with a laugh, "In such a way, of course, as to conceal a third hundred-franc note. . . . What is a poor man to do? He must carry the best purse he can . . . and must needs make use of it on occasions. . . ."

[Pg 226]He stopped at the sight of M. Borely's startled face:

"Please don't think, Mr. Governor, that I wish to dazzle you with my little parlor-tricks. I only wanted to show you that you have to do with a . . . client of a rather . . . special nature and to tell you that you must not be surprised if I venture, now and again, to break the ordinary rules and regulations of your establishment."

The governor had recovered himself. He said plainly:

"I prefer to think that you will conform to the rules and not compel me to resort to harsh measures. . . ."

"Which you would regret to have to enforce: isn't that it, Mr. Governor? That's just what I should like to spare you, by proving to you in advance that they would not prevent me from doing as I please: from corresponding with my friends, from defending the grave interests confided to me outside these walls, from writing to the newspapers that accept my inspiration, from pursuing the fulfilment of my plans and, lastly, from preparing my escape."

"Your escape!"

Lupin began to laugh heartily:

"But think, Mr. Governor, my only excuse for being in prison is . . . to leave it!"

The argument did not appear to satisfy M. Borely. He made an effort to laugh in his turn:

"Forewarned is forearmed," he said.

"That's what I wanted," Lupin replied. "Take all your precautions, Mr. Governor, neglect nothing, so that later they may have nothing to reproach you with. On the other hand, I shall arrange things in such a way that, whatever annoyance you may have[Pg 227] to bear in consequence of my escape, your career, at least, shall not suffer. That is all I had to say to you, Mr. Governor. You can go."

And, while M. Borely walked away, greatly perturbed by his singular charge and very anxious about the events in preparation, the prisoner threw himself on his bed, muttering:

"What cheek, Lupin, old fellow, what cheek! Really, any one would think that you had some idea as to how you were going to get out of this!"

The Sante prison is built on the star plan. In the centre of the main portion is a round hall, upon which all the corridors converge, so that no prisoner is able to leave his cell without being at once perceived by the overseers posted in the glass box which occupies the middle of that central hall.

The thing that most surprises the visitor who goes over the prison is that, at every moment, he will meet prisoners without a guard of any kind, who seem to move about as though they were absolutely free. In reality, in order to go from one point to another?for instance, from their cell to the van waiting in the yard to take them to the Palais de Justice for the magistrate's examination?they pass along straight lines each of which ends in a door that is opened to them by a warder. The sole duty of the warder is to open and shut this door and to watch the two straight lines which it commands. And thus the prisoners, while apparently at liberty to come and go as they please, are sent from door to door, from eye to eye, like so many parcels passed from hand to hand.

Outside, municipal guards receive the object and[Pg 228] pack it into one of the compartments of the "salad-basket."[7]

[7] The French slang expression for its prison-van or "black Maria."?Translator's Note.

This is the ordinary routine.

In Lupin's case it was disregarded entirely. The police were afraid of that walk along the corridors. They were afraid of the prison-van. They were afraid of everything.

M. Weber came in person, accompanied by twelve constables?the best he had, picked men, armed to the teeth?fetched the formidable prisoner at the door of his cell and took him in a cab, the driver of which was one of his own men, with mounted municipal guards trotting on each side, in front and behind.

"Bravo!" cried Lupin. "I am quite touched by the compliment paid me. A guard of honor. By Jove, Weber, you have the proper hierarchical instinct! You don't forget what is due to your immediate chief." And, tapping him on the shoulder: "Weber, I intend to send in my resignation. I shall name you as my successor."

"It's almost done," said Weber.

"That's good news! I was a little anxious about my escape. Now I am easy in my mind. From the moment when Weber is chief of the detective-service . . . !"

M. Weber did not reply to the gibe. At heart, he had a queer, complex feeling in the presence of his adversary, a feeling made up of the fear with which Lupin inspired him, the deference which he entertained for Prince Sernine and the respectful admiration which he had always shown to M. Lenormand. All this was mingled with spite, envy and satisfied hatred.

[Pg 229]They arrived at the Palais de Justice. At the foot of the "mouse-trap," a number of detectives were waiting, among whom M. Weber rejoiced to see his best two lieutenants, the brothers Doudeville.

"Has M. Formerie come?" he asked.

"Yes, chief, Monsieur le Juge d'Instruction is in his room."

M. Weber went up the stairs, followed by Lupin, who had the Doudevilles on either side of him.

"Genevieve?" whispered the prisoner.

"Saved. . . ."

"Where is she?"

"With her grandmother."

"Mrs. Kesselbach?"

"In Paris, at the Bristol."





"What has he told you?"

"Nothing. Won't make any revelations except to you."


"We told him he owed his release to you."

"Newspapers good this morning?"


"Good. If you want to write to me, here are my instructions."

They had reached the inner corridor on the first floor and Lupin slipped a pellet of paper into the hand of one of the brothers.

M. Formerie uttered a delicious phrase when Lupin entered his room accompanied by the deputy-chief:

[Pg 230]"Ah, there you are! I knew we should lay hands on you some day or other!"

"So did I, Monsieur le Juge d'Instruction," said Lupin, "and I am glad that you have been marked out by fate to do justice to the honest man that I am."

"He's getting at me," thought M. Formerie. And, in the same ironical and serious tone as Lupin, he retorted, "The honest man that you are, sir, will be asked what he has to say about three hundred and forty-four separate cases of larceny, burglary, swindling and forgery, blackmail, receiving and so on. Three hundred and forty-four!"

"What! Is that all?" cried Lupin. "I really feel quite ashamed."

"Don't distress yourself! I shall discover more. But let us proceed in order. Arsene Lupin, in spite of all our inquiries, we have no definite information as to your real name."

"How odd! No more have I!"

"We are not even in a position to declare that you are the same Arsene Lupin who was confined in the Sante a few years back, and from there made his first escape."

"'His first escape' is good, and does you credit."

"It so happens, in fact," continued M. Formerie, "that the Arsene Lupin card in the measuring department gives a description of Arsene Lupin which differs at all points from your real description."

"How more and more odd!"

"Different marks, different measurements, different finger-prints. . . . The two photographs even are quite unlike. I will therefore ask you to satisfy us as to your exact identity."

"That's just what I was going to ask you. I have[Pg 231] lived under so many distinct names that I have ended by forgetting my own. I don't know where I am."

"So I must enter a refusal to answer?"

"An inability."

"Is this a thought-out plan? Am I to expect the same silence in reply to all my questions?"

"Very nearly."

"And why?"

Lupin struck a solemn attitude and said:

"M. le Juge d'Instruction, my life belongs to history. You have only to turn over the annals of the past fifteen years and your curiosity will be satisfied. So much for my part. As to the rest, it does not concern me: it is an affair between you and the murderers at the Palace Hotel."

"Arsene Lupin, the honest man that you are will have to-day to explain the murder of Master Altenheim."

"Hullo, this is new! Is the idea yours, Monsieur le Juge d'Instruction?"


"Very clever! Upon my word, M. Formerie, you're getting on!"

"The position in which you were captured leaves no doubt."

"None at all; only, I will venture to ask you this: what sort of wound did Altenheim die of?"

"Of a wound in the throat caused by a knife."

"And where is the knife?"

"It has not been found."

"How could it not have been found, if I had been the assassin, considering that I was captured beside the very man whom I am supposed to have killed?"

[Pg 232]"Who killed him, according to you?"

"The same man that killed Mr. Kesselbach, Chapman, and Beudot. The nature of the wound is a sufficient proof."

"How did he get away?"

"Through a trap-door, which you will discover in the room where the tragedy took place."

M. Formerie assumed an air of slyness:

"And how was it that you did not follow that useful example?"

"I tried to follow it. But the outlet was blocked by a door which I could not open. It was during this attempt that 'the other one' came back to the room and killed his accomplice for fear of the revelations which he would have been sure to make. At the same time, he hid in a cupboard, where it was subsequently found, the parcel of clothes which I had prepared."

"What were those clothes for?"

"To disguise myself. When I went to the Glycines my plan was this: to hand Altenheim over to the police, to suppress my own identity as Prince Sernine and to reappear under the features. . . ."

"Of M. Lenormand, I suppose?"




M. Formerie gave a knowing smile and wagged his forefinger from left to right and right to left:

"No," he repeated.

"What do you mean by 'no'?"

"That story about M. Lenormand. . . ."


"Will do for the public, my friend. But you won't[Pg 233] make M. Formerie swallow that Lupin and Lenormand were one and the same man." He burst out laughing. "Lupin, chief of the detective-service! No, anything you like, but not that! . . . There are limits. . . . I am an easy-going fellow. . . . I'll believe anything . . . but still. . . . Come, between ourselves, what was the reason of this fresh hoax? . . . I confess I can't see . . ."

Lupin looked at him in astonishment. In spite of all that he knew of M. Formerie, he could not conceive such a degree of infatuation and blindness. There was at that moment only one person in the world who refused to believe in Prince Sernine's double personality; and that was M. Formerie! . . .

Lupin turned to the deputy-chief, who stood listening open-mouthed:

"My dear Weber, I fear your promotion is not so certain as I thought. For, you see, if M. Lenormand is not myself, then he exists . . . and, if he exists, I have no doubt that M. Formerie, with all his acumen, will end by discovering him . . . in which case . . ."

"We shall discover him all right, M. Lupin," cried the examining-magistrate. "I'll undertake that, and I tell you that, when you and he are confronted, we shall see some fun." He chuckled and drummed with his fingers on the table. "How amusing! Oh, one's never bored when you're there, that I'll say for you! So you're M. Lenormand, and it's you who arrested your accomplice Marco!"

"Just so! Wasn't it my duty to please the prime minister and save the cabinet? The fact is historical."

M. Formerie held his sides:

"Oh, I shall die of laughing, I know I shall! Lord,[Pg 234] what a joke! That answer will travel round the world. So, according to your theory, it was with you that I made the first enquiries at the Palace Hotel after the murder of Mr. Kesselbach? . . ."

"Surely it was with me that you investigated the case of the stolen coronet when I was Duc de Chamerace,"[8] retorted Lupin, in a sarcastic voice.

[8] See Arsene Lupin by Edgar Jepson and Maurice Leblanc.

M. Formerie gave a start. All his merriment was dispelled by that odious recollection. Turning suddenly grave, he asked:

"So you persist in that absurd theory?"

"I must, because it is the truth. It would be easy for you to take a steamer to Cochin-China and to find at Saigon the proofs of the death of the real M. Lenormand, the worthy man whom I replaced and whose death-certificate I can show you."


"Upon my word, Monsieur le Juge d'Instruction, I don't care one way or the other. If it annoys you that I should be M. Lenormand, don't let's talk about it. We won't talk about myself; we won't talk about anything at all, if you prefer. Besides, of what use can it be to you? The Kesselbach case is such a tangled affair that I myself don't know where I stand. There's only one man who might help you. I have not succeeded in discovering him. And I don't think that you . . ."

"What's the man's name?"

"He's an old man, a German called Steinweg. . . . But, of course, you've heard about him, Weber, and the way in which he was carried off in the middle of the Palais de Justice?"

[Pg 235]M. Formerie threw an inquiring glance at the deputy-chief. M. Weber said:

"I undertake to bring that person to you, Monsieur le Juge d'Instruction."

"So that's done," said M. Formerie, rising from his chair. "As you see, Lupin, this was merely a formal examination to bring the two duelists together. Now that we have crossed swords, all that we need is the necessary witness of our fencing-match, your counsel."

"Tut! Is it indispensable?"


"Employ counsel in view of such an unlikely trial?"

"You must."

"In that case, I'll choose Maitre Quimbel."

"The president of the corporation of the bar. You are wise, you will be well defended."

The first sitting was over. M. Weber led the prisoner away.

As he went down the stairs of the "mouse-trap," between the two Doudevilles, Lupin said, in short, imperative sentences:

"Watch Steinweg. . . . Don't let him speak to anybody. . . . Be there to-morrow. . . . I'll give you some letters . . . one for you . . . important."

Downstairs, he walked up to the municipal guards surrounding the taxi-cab:

"Home, boys," he exclaimed, "and quick about it! I have an appointment with myself for two o'clock precisely."

There were no incidents during the drive. On returning to his cell, Lupin wrote a long letter, full of[Pg 236] detailed instructions, to the brothers Doudeville and, two other letters.

One was for Genevieve:

"Genevieve, you now know who I am and you will understand why I concealed from you the name of him who twice carried you away in his arms when you were a little girl.

"Genevieve, I was your mother's friend, a distant friend, of whose double life she knew nothing, but upon whom she thought that she could rely. And that is why, before dying, she wrote me a few lines asking me to watch over you.

"Unworthy as I am of your esteem, Genevieve, I shall continue faithful to that trust. Do not drive me from your heart entirely.

"Arsene Lupin."

The other letter was addressed to Dolores Kesselbach:

"Prince Sernine was led to seek Mrs. Kesselbach's acquaintance by motives of self-interest alone. But a great longing to devote himself to her was the cause of his continuing it.

"Now that Prince Sernine has become merely Arsene Lupin, he begs Mrs. Kesselbach not to deprive him of the right of protecting her, at a distance and as a man protects one whom he will never see again."

There were some envelopes on the table. He took up one and took up a second; then, when he took up the third, he noticed a sheet of white paper, the presence of which surprised him and which had words[Pg 237] stuck upon it, evidently cut out of a newspaper. He read:

"You have failed in your fight with the baron. Give up interesting yourself in the case, and I will not oppose your escape.

"L. M."

Once more, Lupin had that sense of repulsion and terror with which this nameless and fabulous being always inspired him, a sense of disgust which one feels at touching a venomous animal, a reptile:

"He again," he said. "Even here!"

That also scared him, the sudden vision which he at times received of this hostile power, a power as great as his own and disposing of formidable means, the extent of which he himself was unable to realize.

He at once suspected his warder. But how had it been possible to corrupt that hard-featured, stern-eyed man?

"Well, so much the better, after all!" he cried. "I have never had to do except with dullards. . . . In order to fight myself, I had to chuck myself into the command of the detective-service. . . . This time, I have some one to deal with! . . . Here's a man who puts me in his pocket . . . by sleight of hand, one might say. . . . If I succeed, from my prison cell, in avoiding his blows and smashing him, in seeing old Steinweg and dragging his confession from him, in setting the Kesselbach case on its legs and turning the whole of it into cash, in defending Mrs. Kesselbach and winning fortune and happiness for Genevieve . . . well, then Lupin will be Lupin still! . . ."

[Pg 238]Eleven days passed. On the twelfth day, Lupin woke very early and exclaimed:

"Let me see, if my calculations are correct and if the gods are on my side, there will be some news to-day. I have had four interviews with Formerie. The fellow must be worked up to the right point now. And the Doudevilles, on their side, must have been busy. . . . We shall have some fun!"

He flung out his fists to right and left, brought them back to his chest, then flung them out again and brought them back again.

This movement, which executed thirty times in succession, was followed by a bending of his body backwards and forwards. Next came an alternate lifting of the legs and then an alternate swinging of the arms.

The whole performance occupied a quarter of an hour, the quarter of an hour which he devoted every morning to Swedish exercises to keep his muscles in condition.

Then he sat down to his table, took up some sheets of white paper, which were arranged in numbered packets, and, folding one of them, made it into an envelope, a work which he continued to do with a series of successive sheets. It was the task which he had accepted and which he forced himself to do daily, the prisoners having the right to choose the labor which they preferred: sticking envelopes, making paper fans, metal purses, and so on. . . .

And, in this way, while occupying his hands with an automatic exercise and keeping his muscles supple with mechanical bendings, Lupin was able to have his thoughts constantly fixed on his affairs. . . .

And his affairs were complicated enough, in all conscience!

[Pg 239]There was one, for instance, which surpassed all the others in importance, and for which he had to employ all the resources of his genius. How was he to have a long, quiet conversation with old Steinweg? The necessity was immediate. In a few days, Steinweg would have recovered from his imprisonment, would receive interviews, might blab . . . to say nothing of the inevitable interference of the enemy, 'the other one.' And it was essential that Steinweg's secret, Pierre Leduc's secret, should be revealed to no one but Lupin. Once published, the secret lost all its value. . . .

The bolts grated, the key turned noisily in the lock.

"Ah, it's you, most excellent of jailers! Has the moment come for the last toilet? The hair-cut that precedes the great final cut of all?"

"Magistrate's examination," said the man, laconically.

Lupin walked through the corridors of the prison and was received by the municipal guards, who locked him into the prison-van.

He reached the Palais de Justice twenty minutes later. One of the Doudevilles was waiting near the stairs. As they went up, he said to Lupin:

"You'll be confronted to-day."

"Everything settled?"



"Busy elsewhere."

Lupin walked into M. Formerie's room and at once recognized old Steinweg, sitting on a chair, looking ill and wretched. A municipal guard was standing behind him.

M. Formerie scrutinized the prisoner attentively, as[Pg 240] though he hoped to draw important conclusions from his contemplation of him, and said:

"You know who this gentleman is?"

"Why, Steinweg, of course! . . ."

"Yes, thanks to the active inquiries of M. Weber and of his two officers, the brothers Doudeville, we have found Mr. Steinweg, who, according to you, knows the ins and outs of the Kesselbach case, the name of the murderer and all the rest of it."

"I congratulate you, Monsieur le Juge d'Instruction. Your examination will go swimmingly."

"I think so. There is only one 'but': Mr. Steinweg refuses to reveal anything, except in your presence."

"Well, I never! How odd of him! Does Arsene Lupin inspire him with so much affection and esteem?"

"Not Arsene Lupin, but Prince Sernine, who, he says, saved his life, and M. Lenormand, with whom, he says, he began a conversation. . . ."

"At the time when I was chief of the detective-service," Lupin broke in. "So you consent to admit."

"Mr. Steinweg," said the magistrate, "do you recognize M. Lenormand?"

"No, but I know that Arsene Lupin and he are one."

"So you consent to speak?"

"Yes . . . but . . . we are not alone."

"How do you mean? There is only my clerk here . . . and the guard . . ."

"Monsieur le Juge d'Instruction, the secret which I am about to reveal is so important that you yourself would be sorry . . ."

"Guard, go outside, please," said M. Formerie. "Come back at once, if I call. Do you object to my clerk, Steinweg?"

[Pg 241]"No, no . . . it might be better . . . but, however . . ."

"Then speak. For that matter, nothing that you reveal will be put down in black on white. One word more, though: I ask you for the last time, is it indispensable that the prisoner should be present at this interview?"

"Quite indispensable. You will see the reason for yourself."

He drew the chair up to the magistrate's desk, Lupin remained standing, near the clerk. And the old man, speaking in a loud voice, said:

"It is now ten years since a series of circumstances, which I need not enter into, made me acquainted with an extraordinary story in which two persons are concerned."

"Their names, please."

"I will give the names presently. For the moment, let me say that one of these persons occupies an exceptional position in France, and that the other, an Italian, or rather a Spaniard . . . yes, a Spaniard . . ."

A bound across the room, followed by two formidable blows of the fist. . . . Lupin's two arms had darted out to right and left, as though impelled by springs and his two fists, hard as cannon balls, caught the magistrate and his clerk on the jaw, just below the ear.

The magistrate and the clerk collapsed over their tables, in two lumps, without a moan.

"Well hit!" said Lupin. "That was a neat bit of work."

He went to the door and locked it softly. Then returning:

[Pg 242]"Steinweg, have you the chloroform?"

"Are you quite sure that they have fainted?" asks the old man, trembling with fear.

"What do you think! But it will only last for three or four minutes. . . . And that is not long enough."

The German produced from his pocket a bottle and two pads of cotton-wool, ready prepared.

Lupin uncorked the bottle, poured a few drops of the chloroform on the two pads and held them to the noses of the magistrate and his clerk.

"Capital! We have ten minutes of peace and quiet before us. That will do, but let's make haste, all the same; and not a word too much, old man, do you hear?" He took him by the arm. "You see what I am able to do. Here we are, alone in the very heart of the Palais de Justice, because I wished it."

"Yes," said the old man.

"So you are going to tell me your secret?"

"Yes, I told it to Kesselbach, because he was rich and could turn it to better account than anybody I knew; but, prisoner and absolutely powerless though you are, I consider you a hundred times as strong as Kesselbach with his hundred millions."

"In that case, speak; and let us take things in their proper order. The name of the murderer?"

"That's impossible."

"How do you mean, impossible? I thought you knew it and were going to tell me everything!"

"Everything, but not that."

"But . . ."

"Later on."

"You're mad! Why?"

"I have no proofs. Later, when you are free, we[Pg 243] will hunt together. Besides, what's the good? And then, really, I can't tell you."

"You're afraid of him?"


"Very well," said Lupin. "After all, that's not the most urgent matter. As to the rest, you've made up your mind to speak?"

"Without reserve."

"Well, then, answer. Who is Pierre Leduc?"

"Hermann IV., Grand Duke of Zweibrucken-Veldenz, Prince of Berncastel, Count of Fistingen, Lord of Wiesbaden and other places."

Lupin felt a thrill of joy at learning that his protege was definitely not the son of a pork-butcher!

"The devil!" he muttered. "So we have a handle to our name! . . . As far as I remember, the Grand-duchy of Zweibrucken-Veldenz is in Prussia?"

"Yes, on the Moselle. The house of Veldenz is a branch of the Palatine house of Zweibrucken. The grand-duchy was occupied by the French after the peace of Luneville and formed part of the department of Mont-Tonnerre. In 1814, it was restored in favor of Hermann I., the great grandfather of Pierre Leduc. His son, Hermann II., spent a riotous youth, ruined himself, squandered the finances of his country and made himself impossible to his subjects, who ended by partly burning the old castle at Veldenz and driving their sovereign out of his dominions. The grand-duchy was then administered and governed by three regents, in the name of Hermann II., who, by a curious anomaly, did not abdicate, but retained his title as reigning grand-duke. He lived, rather short of cash, in Berlin; later, he fought in the French war, by the[Pg 244] side of Bismarck, of whom he was a friend. He was killed by a shell at the siege of Paris and, in dying, entrusted Bismarck with the charge of his son Hermann, that is, Hermann III."

"The father, therefore, of our Leduc," said Lupin.

"Yes. The chancellor took a liking to Hermann III., and used often to employ him as a secret envoy to persons of distinction abroad. At the fall of his patron Hermann III., left Berlin, travelled about and returned and settled in Dresden. When Bismarck died, Hermann III., was there. He himself died two years later. These are public facts, known to everybody in Germany; and that is the story of the three Hermanns, Grand-dukes of Zweibrucken-Veldenz in the nineteenth century."

"But the fourth, Hermann IV., the one in whom we are interested?"

"We will speak of him presently. Let us now pass on to unknown facts."

"Facts known to you alone," said Lupin.

"To me alone and to a few others."

"How do you mean, a few others? Hasn't the secret been kept?"

"Yes, yes, the secret has been well kept by all who know it. Have no fear; it is very much to their interest, I assure you, not to divulge it."

"Then how do you know it?"

"Through an old servant and private secretary of the Grand-duke Hermann, the last of the name. This servant, who died in my arms in South Africa, began by confiding to me that his master was secretly married and had left a son behind him. Then he told me the great secret."

[Pg 245]"The one which you afterwards revealed to Kesselbach."


"One second . . . Will you excuse me? . . ."

Lupin bent over M. Formerie, satisfied himself that all was well and the heart beating normally, and said:

"Go on."

Steinweg resumed:

"On the evening of the day on which Bismarck died, the Grand-duke Hermann III. and his faithful manservant?my South African friend?took a train which brought them to Munich in time to catch the express for Vienna. From Vienna, they went to Constantinople, then to Cairo, then to Naples, then to Tunis, then to Spain, then to Paris, then to London, to St. Petersburg, to Warsaw . . . and in none of these towns did they stop. They took a cab, had their two bags put on the top, rushed through the streets, hurried to another station or to the landing-stage, and once more took the train or the steamer."

"In short, they were being followed and were trying to put their pursuers off the scent," Arsene Lupin concluded.

"One evening, they left the city of Treves, dressed in workmen's caps and linen jackets, each with a bundle slung over his shoulder at the end of a stick. They covered on foot the twenty-two miles to Veldenz, where the old Castle of Zweibrucken stands, or rather the ruins of the old castle."

"No descriptions, please."

"All day long, they remained hidden in a neighboring forest. At night, they went up to the old walls. Hermann ordered his servant to wait for him and himself scaled the wall at a breach known as the Wolf's[Pg 246] Gap. He returned in an hour's time. In the following week, after more peregrinations, he went back home to Dresden. The expedition was over."

"And what was the object of the expedition?"

"The grand-duke never breathed a word about it to his servant. But certain particulars and the coincidence of facts that ensued enabled the man to build up the truth, at least, in part."

"Quick, Steinweg, time is running short now: and I am eager to know."

"A fortnight after the expedition, Count von Waldemar, an officer in the Emperor's body-guard and one of his personal friends, called on the grand-duke, accompanied by six men. He was there all day, locked up with the grand-duke in his study. There were repeated sounds of altercations, of violent disputes. One phrase even was overheard by the servant, who was passing through the garden, under the windows: 'Those papers were handed to you; His imperial Majesty is sure of it. If you refuse to give them to me of your own free will . . .' The rest of the sentence, the meaning of the threat and, for that matter, the whole scene can be easily guessed by what followed; Hermann's house was ransacked from top to bottom."

"But that is against the law."

"It would have been against the law if the grand-duke had objected; but he himself accompanied the count in his search."

"And what were they looking for? The chancellor's memoirs?"

"Something better than that. They were looking for a parcel of secret documents which were known to exist, owing to indiscretions that had been committed, and[Pg 247] which were known for certain to have been entrusted to the Grand-duke Hermann's keeping."

Lupin muttered, excitedly:

"Secret documents . . . and very important ones, no doubt?"

"Of the highest importance. The publication of those papers would lead to results which it would be impossible to foresee, not only from the point of view of home politics, but also from that of Germany's relations with the foreign powers."

"Oh!" said Lupin, throbbing with emotion. "Oh, can it be possible? What proof have you?"

"What proof? The evidence of the grand-duke's wife, the confidences which she made to the servant after her husband's death."

"Yes . . . yes . . ." stammered Lupin. "We have the evidence of the grand-duke himself."

"Better still," said Steinweg.


"A document, a document written in his own hand, signed by him and containing . . ."

"Containing what?"

"A list of the secret papers confided to his charge."

"Tell me, in two words. . . ."

"In two words? That can't be done. The document is a very long one, scattered all over with annotations and remarks which are sometimes impossible to understand. Let me mention just two titles which obviously refer to two bundles of secret papers: Original letters of the Crown Prince to Bismarck is one. The dates show that these letters were written during the three months of the reign of Frederick III. To picture what the letters may contain, you have only to think[Pg 248] of the Emperor Frederick's illness, his quarrels with his son . . ."

"Yes, yes, I know. . . . And the other title?"

"Photographs of the letters of Frederick III., and the Empress Victoria to the Queen of England."

"Do you mean to say that that's there?" asked Lupin, in a choking voice.

"Listen to the grand-duke's notes: Text of the treaty with Great Britain and France. And these rather obscure words: 'Alsace-Lorraine. . . . Colonies. . . . Limitation of naval armaments. . . ."

"It says that?" blurted Lupin. "And you call that obscure? . . . Why, the words are dazzling with light! . . . Oh, can it be possible? . . . And what next, what next?"

As he spoke there was a noise at the door. Some one was knocking.

"You can't come in," said Lupin. "I am busy. . . . Go on, Steinweg."

"But . . ." said the old man, in a great state of alarm.

The door was shaken violently and Lupin recognized Weber's voice. He shouted:

"A little patience, Weber. I shall have done in five minutes."

He gripped the old man's arm and, in a tone of command:

"Be easy and go on with your story. So, according to you, the expedition of the grand duke and his servant to Veldenz Castle had no other object than to hide those papers?"

"There can be no question about that."

"Very well. But the grand-duke may have taken them away since."

[Pg 249]"No, he did not leave Dresden until his death."

"But the grand-duke's enemies, the men who had everything to gain by recovering them and destroying them: can't they have tried to find out where the papers were?"

"They have tried."

"How do you know?"

"You can understand that I did not remain inactive and that my first care, after receiving those revelations, was to go to Veldenz and make inquiries for myself in the neighboring villages. Well, I learnt that, on two separate occasions, the castle was invaded by a dozen men, who came from Berlin furnished with credentials to the regents."


"Well, they found nothing, for, since that time, the castle has been found closed to the public."

"But what prevents anybody from getting in?"

"A garrison of fifty soldiers, who keep watch day and night."

"Soldiers of the grand-duchy?"

"No, soldiers drafted from the Emperor's own body-guard."

The din in the passage increased:

"Open the door!" a voice cried. "I order you to open the door!"

"I can't. Weber, old chap; the lock has stuck. If you take my advice, you had better cut the door all round the lock."

"Open the door!"

"And what about the fate of Europe, which we are discussing?"

He turned to the old man:

[Pg 250]"So you were not able to enter the castle?"


"But you are persuaded that the papers in question are hidden there?"

"Look here, haven't I given you proofs enough? Aren't you convinced?"

"Yes, yes," muttered Lupin, "that's where they are hidden . . . there's no doubt about it . . . that's where they are hidden. . . ."

He seemed to see the castle. He seemed to conjure up the mysterious hiding-place. And the vision of an inexhaustible treasure, the dream of chests filled with riches and precious stones could not have excited him more than the idea of those few scraps of paper watched over by the Kaiser's guards. What a wonderful conquest to embark upon! And how worthy of his powers! And what a proof of perspicacity and intuition he had once more given by throwing himself at a venture upon that unknown track!

Outside, the men were "working" at the lock.

Lupin asked of old Steinweg:

"What did the grand-duke die of?"

"An attack of pleurisy, which carried him off in a few days. He hardly recovered consciousness before the end; and the horrible thing appears to have been that he was seen to make violent efforts, between his fits of delirium, to collect his thoughts and utter connected words. From time to time, he called his wife, looked at her in a desperate way and vainly moved his lips."

"In a word, he spoke?" said Lupin, cutting him short, for the "working" at the lock was beginning to make him anxious.

"No, he did not speak. But, in a comparatively lucid moment, he summoned up the energy to make[Pg 251] some marks on a piece of paper which his wife gave him."

"Well, those marks . . . ?"

"They were illegible, for the most part."

"For the most part? But the others?" asked Lupin, greedily. "The others?"

"There were, first, three perfectly distinct figures: an 8, a 1, and a 3. . . ."

"Yes, 813, I know . . . and next?"

"And next, there were some letters . . . several letters, of which all that can be made out for certain are a group of three followed, immediately after, by a group of two letters."

"'APO ON,' is that it?"

"Oh, so you know! . . ."

The lock was yielding; almost all the screws had been taken out. Lupin, suddenly alarmed at the thought of being interrupted, asked:

"So that this incomplete word 'APO ON' and the number 813 are the formulas which the grand-duke bequeathed to his wife and son to enable them to find the secret papers?"


"What became of the grand-duke's wife?"

"She died soon after her husband, of grief, one might say."

"And was the child looked after by the family?"

"What family? The grand-duke had no brothers or sisters. Moreover, he was only morganatically and secretly married. No, the child was taken away by Hermann's old man-servant, who brought him up under the name of Pierre Leduc. He was a bad type of boy, self-willed, capricious and troublesome. One day, he went off and was never seen again."

[Pg 252]"Did he know the secret of his birth?"

"Yes; and he was shown the sheet of paper on which Hermann III. had written the letters and figures."

"And after that this revelation was made to no one but yourself?"

"That's all."

"And you confided only in Mr. Kesselbach?"

"Yes. But, out of prudence, while showing him the sheet of letters and figures and the list of which I spoke to you, I kept both those documents in my own possession. Events have proved that I was right."

Lupin was now clinging to the door with both hands:

"Weber," he roared, "you're very indiscreet! I shall report you! . . . Steinweg, have you those documents?"


"Are they in a safe place?"


"In Paris?"


"So much the better. Don't forget that your life is in danger and that you have people after you."

"I know. The least false step and I am done for."

"Exactly. So take your precautions, throw the enemy off the scent, go and fetch your papers and await my instructions. The thing is cut and dried. In a month, at latest, we will go to Veldenz Castle together."

"Suppose I'm in prison?"

"I will take you out."

"Can you?"

"The very day after I come out myself. No, I'm wrong: the same evening . . . an hour later."

"You have the means?"

[Pg 253]"Since the last ten minutes, an infallible means. You have nothing more to say to me?"


"Then I'll open the door."

He pulled back the door, and bowing to M. Weber:

"My poor old Weber, I don't know what excuse to make . . ."

He did not finish his sentence. The sudden inrush of the deputy-chief and three policeman left him no time.

M. Weber was white with rage and indignation. The sight of the two men lying outstretched quite unsettled him.

"Dead!" he exclaimed.

"Not a bit of it, not a bit of it," chuckled Lupin, "only asleep! Formerie was tired out . . . so I allowed him a few moments' rest."

"Enough of this humbug!" shouted M. Weber. And, turning to the policemen, "Take him back to the Sante. And keep your eyes open, damn it! As for this visitor . . ."

Lupin learnt nothing more as to Weber's intentions with regard to old Steinweg. A crowd of municipal guards and police constables hustled him down to the prison-van.

On the stairs Doudeville whispered:

"Weber had a line to warn him. It told him to mind the confrontation and to be on his guard with Steinweg. The note was signed 'L. M.'"

But Lupin hardly bothered his head about all this. What did he care for the murderer's hatred or old Steinweg's fate? He possessed Rudolf Kesselbach's secret!

한국 Korea Tour in Road, Islands, Mountains, Tour Place, Beach, Festival, University, Golf Course, Stadium, History Place, Natural Monument, Paintings, Pottery, K-jokes, 중국 China Tour in History, Idioms, UNESCO Heritage, Tour Place, Baduk, Golf Course, Stadium, University, J-Cartoons, 일본 Japan Tour in Tour Place, Baduk, Golf Course, Stadium, University, History, Idioms, UNESCO Heritage, E-jokes, 인도 India Tour in History, UNESCO Heritage, Tour Place, Golf Course, Stadium, University, Paintings,