6. Again The Charolais
Hardly had the door closed behind the millionaire when the head of M. Charolais appeared at
one of the windows opening on to the terrace. He looked round the empty hall, whistled softly,
and stepped inside. Inside of ten seconds his three sons came in through the windows, and with
them came Jean, the millionaire's chauffeur.
"Take the door into the outer hall, Jean," said M. Charolais, in a low voice. "Bernard, take that
door into the drawing-room. Pierre and Louis, help me go through the drawers. The whole
family is going to Paris, and if we're not quick we shan't get the cars."
"That comes of this silly fondness for warning people of a coup," growled Jean, as he hurried
to the door of the outer hall. "It would have been so simple to rob the Paris house without
sending that infernal letter. It was sure to knock them all silly."
"What harm can the letter do, you fool?" said M. Charolais. "It's Sunday. We want them
knocked silly for to-morrow, to get hold of the coronet. Oh, to get hold of that coronet! It must
be in Paris. I've been ransacking this chateau for hours."
Jean opened the door of the outer hall half an inch, and glued his eyes to it. Bernard had done
the same with the door opening into the drawing-room. M. Charolais, Pierre, and Louis were
opening drawers, ransacking them, and shutting them with infinite quickness and noiselessly.
"Bureau! Which is the bureau? The place is stuffed with bureaux!" growled M. Charolais. "I
must have those keys."
"That plain thing with the brass handles in the middle on the left-- that's a bureau," said
"Why didn't you say so?" growled M. Charolais.
He dashed to it, and tried it. It was locked.
"Locked, of course! Just my luck! Come and get it open, Pierre. Be smart!"
The son he had described as an engineer came quickly to the bureau, fitting together as he
came the two halves of a small jemmy. He fitted it into the top of the flap. There was a crunch,
and the old lock gave. He opened the flap, and he and M. Charolais pulled open drawer after
"Quick! Here's that fat old fool!" said Jean, in a hoarse, hissing whisper.
He moved down the hall, blowing out one of the lamps as he passed it. In the seventh drawer
lay a bunch of keys. M. Charolais snatched it up, glanced at it, took a bunch of keys from his
own pocket, put it in the drawer, closed it, closed the flap, and rushed to the window. Jean and
his sons were already out on the terrace.
M. Charolais was still a yard from the window when the door into the outer hall opened and in
came M. Gournay-Martin.
He caught a glimpse of a back vanishing through the window, and bellowed: "Hi! A man! A
burglar! Firmin! Firmin!"
He ran blundering down the hall, tangled his feet in the fragments of the broken chair, and
came sprawling a thundering cropper, which knocked every breath of wind out of his capacious
body. He lay flat on his face for a couple of minutes, his broad back wriggling convulsively--a
pathetic sight!--in the painful effort to get his breath back. Then he sat up, and with perfect
frankness burst into tears. He sobbed and blubbered, like a small child that has hurt itself, for