22. The Bargain
Charolais conducted the detective down the stairs and let him out of the front door, cursing and
threatening vengeance as he went. Charolais took no notice of his words--he was the well-
trained servant. He came back upstairs, and on the landing called to Victoire and Bernard.
They came hurrying down; and the three of them went into the smoking-room.
"Now we know where we are," said Lupin, with cheerful briskness. "Guerchard will be here in
ten minutes with a warrant for my arrest. All of you clear out."
"It won't be so precious easy. The house is watched," said Charolais. "And I'll bet it's watched
back and front."
"Well, slip out by the secret entrance. They haven't found that yet," said Lupin. "And meet me
at the house at Passy."
Charolais and Bernard wanted no more telling; they ran to the book- case and pressed the
buttons; the book-case slid aside; the doors opened and disclosed the lift. They stepped into it.
Victoire had followed them. She paused and said: "And you? Are you coming?"
"In an instant I shall slip out the same way," he said.
"I'll wait for him. You go on," said Victoire; and the lift went down.
Lupin went to the telephone, rang the bell, and put the receiver to his ear.
"You've no time to waste telephoning. They may be here at any moment!" cried Victoire
"I must. If I don't telephone Sonia will come here. She will run right into Guerchard's arms.
Why the devil don't they answer? They must be deaf!" And he rang the bell again.
"Let's go to her! Let's get out of here!" cried Victoire, more anxiously. "There really isn't any
time to waste."
"Go to her? But I don't know where she is. I lost my head last night," cried Lupin, suddenly
anxious himself. "Are you there?" he shouted into the telephone. "She's at a little hotel near the
Star. . . . Are you there? . . . But there are twenty hotels near the Star. . . . Are you there? . . .
Oh, I did lose my head last night. . . . Are you there? Oh, hang this telephone! Here I'm fighting
with a piece of furniture. And every second is important!"
He picked up the machine, shook it, saw that the wires were cut, and cried furiously: "Ha!
They've played the telephone trick on me! That's Guerchard. . . . The swine!"
"And now you can come along!" cried Victoire.
"But that's just what I can't do!" he cried.
"But there's nothing more for you to do here, since you can no longer telephone," said Victoire,
Lupin caught her arm and shook her, staring into her face with panic-stricken eyes. "But don't
you understand that, since I haven't telephoned, she'll come here?" he cried hoarsely. "Five-
and-twenty minutes past eight! At half-past eight she will start--start to come here."
His face had suddenly grown haggard; this new fear had brought back all the exhaustion of the
night; his eyes were panic-stricken.
"But what about you?" said Victoire, wringing her hands.
"What about her?" said Lupin; and his voice thrilled with anguished dread.
"But you'll gain nothing by destroying both of you--nothing at all."
"I prefer it," said Lupin slowly, with a suddenly stubborn air.