23. The End Of The Duel
"The handcuffs?" said Lupin; and his face fell. Then it cleared; and he added lightly, "After all,
there's nothing like being careful; and, by Jove, with me you need to be. I might get away yet.
What luck it is for you that I'm so soft, so little of a Charmerace, so human! Truly, I can't be
much of a man of the world, to be in love like this!"
"Come, come, hold out your hands!" said Guerchard, jingling the handcuffs impatiently.
"I should like to see that child for the last time," said Lupin gently.
"All right," said Guerchard.
"Arsene Lupin--and nabbed by you! If you aren't in luck! Here you are!" said Lupin bitterly;
and he held out his wrists.
Guerchard snapped the handcuffs on them with a grunt of satisfaction.
Lupin gazed down at them with a bitter face, and said: "Oh, you are in luck! You're not married
by any chance?"
"Yes, yes; I am," said Guerchard hastily; and he went quickly to the door and opened it:
"Dieusy!" he called. "Dieusy! Mademoiselle Kritchnoff is at liberty. Tell her so, and bring her
Lupin started back, flushed and scowling; he cried: "With these things on my hands! . . . No! . .
. I can't see her!"
Guerchard stood still, looking at him. Lupin's scowl slowly softened, and he said, half to
himself, "But I should have liked to see her . . . very much . . . for if she goes like that . . . I
shall not know when or where--" He stopped short, raised his eyes, and said in a decided tone:
"Ah, well, yes; I should like to see her."
"If you've quite made up your mind," said Guerchard impatiently, and he went into the
Lupin stood very still, frowning thoughtfully. He heard footsteps on the stairs, and then the
voice of Guerchard in the anteroom, saying, in a jeering tone, "You're free, mademoiselle; and
you can thank the Duke for it. You owe your liberty to him."
"Free! And I owe it to him?" cried the voice of Sonia, ringing and golden with extravagant joy.
"Yes, mademoiselle," said Guerchard. "You owe it to him."
She came through the open door, flushed deliciously and smiling, her eyes brimming with tears
of joy. Lupin had never seen her look half so adorable.
"Is it to you I owe it? Then I shall owe everything to you. Oh, thank you--thank you!" she
cried, holding out her hands to him.
Lupin half turned away from her to hide his handcuffs.
She misunderstood the movement. Her face fell suddenly like that of a child rebuked: "Oh, I
was wrong. I was wrong to come here!" she cried quickly, in changed, dolorous tones. "I
thought yesterday . . . I made a mistake . . . pardon me. I'm going. I'm going."
Lupin was looking at her over his shoulder, standing sideways to hide the handcuffs. He said
"No, no, I understand! It was impossible!" she cried quickly, cutting him short. "And yet if you
only knew--if you knew how I have changed--with what a changed spirit I came here. . . . Ah, I
swear that now I hate all my past. I loathe it. I swear that now the mere presence of a thief
would overwhelm me with disgust."