14. Guerchard Picks Up The True Scent
The millionaire gazed at the card with stupefied eyes, the inspector gazed at it with extreme
intelligence, the Duke gazed at it with interest, and M. Formery gazed at it with extreme
"It's part of the same ruse--it was put there to throw us off the scent. It proves nothing--
absolutely nothing," he said scornfully.
"No; it proves nothing at all," said Guerchard quietly.
"The telegram is the important thing--this telegram," said M. Gournay-Martin feverishly. "It
concerns the coronet. Is it going to be disregarded?"
"Oh, no, no," said M. Formery in a soothing tone. "It will be taken into account. It will
certainly be taken into account."
M. Gournay-Martin's butler appeared in the doorway of the drawing- room: "If you please, sir,
lunch is served," he said.
At the tidings some of his weight of woe appeared to be lifted from the head of the millionaire.
"Good!" he said, "good! Gentlemen, you will lunch with me, I hope."
"Thank you," said M. Formery. "There is nothing else for us to do, at any rate at present, and in
the house. I am not quite satisfied about Mademoiselle Kritchnoff--at least Guerchard is not. I
propose to question her again--about those earlier thefts."
"I'm sure there's nothing in that," said the Duke quickly.
"No, no; I don't think there is," said M. Formery. "But still one never knows from what quarter
light may come in an affair like this. Accident often gives us our best clues."
"It seems rather a shame to frighten her--she's such a child," said the Duke.
"Oh, I shall be gentle, your Grace--as gentle as possible, that is. But I look to get more from the
examination of Victoire. She was on the scene. She has actually seen the rogues at work; but
till she recovers there is nothing more to be done, except to wait the discoveries of the
detectives who are working outside; and they will report here. So in the meantime we shall be
charmed to lunch with you, M. Gournay-Martin."
They went downstairs to the dining-room and found an elaborate and luxurious lunch, worthy
of the hospitality of a millionaire, awaiting them. The skill of the cook seemed to have been
quite unaffected by the losses of his master. M. Formery, an ardent lover of good things,
enjoyed himself immensely. He was in the highest spirits. Germaine, a little upset by the night-
journey, was rather querulous. Her father was plunged in a gloom which lifted for but a brief
space at the appearance of a fresh delicacy. Guerchard ate and drank seriously, answering the
questions of the Duke in a somewhat absent-minded fashion. The Duke himself seemed to have
lost his usual flow of good spirits, and at times his brow was knitted in an anxious frown. His
questions to Guerchard showed a far less keen interest in the affair.
To him the lunch seemed very long and very tedious; but at last it came to an end. M. Gournay-
Martin seemed to have been much cheered by the wine he had drunk. He was almost hopeful.
M. Formery, who had not by any means trifled with the champagne, was raised to the very
height of sanguine certainty. Their coffee and liqueurs were served in the smoking-room.
Guerchard lighted a cigar, refused a liqueur, drank his coffee quickly, and slipped out of the