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Arsene Lupin

18. The Duke Stays
The Duke shut the door and leant against it, listening anxiously, breathing quickly. There came
the bang of the front door. With a deep sigh of relief he left the door, came briskly, smiling,
across the room, and put the card-case back into the pocket of Guerchard's cloak. He lighted a
cigarette, dropped into an easy chair, and sat waiting with an entirely careless air for the
detective's return. Presently he heard quick footsteps on the bare boards of the empty room
beyond the opening. Then Guerchard came down the steps and out of the fireplace.
His face wore an expression of extreme perplexity:
"I can't understand it," he said." I found nothing."
"Nothing?" said the Duke.
"No. Are you sure you saw the handkerchief in one of those little rooms on the second floor--
quite sure?" said Guerchard.
"Of course I did," said the Duke. "Isn't it there?"
"No," said Guerchard.
"You can't have looked properly," said the Duke, with a touch of irony in his voice. "If I were
you, I should go back and look again."
"No. If I've looked for a thing, I've looked for it. There's no need for me to look a second time.
But, all the same, it's rather funny. Doesn't it strike you as being rather funny, your Grace?"
said Guerchard, with a worried air.
"It strikes me as being uncommonly funny," said the Duke, with an ambiguous smile.
Guerchard looked at him with a sudden uneasiness; then he rang the bell.
Bonavent came into the room.
"Mademoiselle Kritchnoff, Bonavent. It's quite time," said Guerchard.
"Mademoiselle Kritchnoff?" said Bonavent, with an air of surprise.
"Yes, it's time that she was taken to the police-station."
"Mademoiselle Kritchnoff has gone, sir," said Bonavent, in a tone of quiet remonstrance.
"Gone? What do you mean by gone?" said Guerchard.
"Gone, sir, gone!" said Bonavent patiently.
"But you're mad. . . . Mad!" cried Guerchard.
"No, I'm not mad," said Bonavent. "Gone! But who let her go?" cried Guerchard.
"The men at the door," said Bonavent.
"The men at the door," said Guerchard, in a tone of stupefaction. "But she had to have my
permit . . . my permit on my card! Send the fools up to me!"
Bonavent went to the top of the staircase, and called down it. Guerchard followed him. Two
detectives came hurrying up the stairs and into the drawing-room.
"What the devil do you mean by letting Mademoiselle Kritchnoff leave the house without my
permit, written on my card?" cried Guerchard violently.
"But she had your permit, sir, and it WAS written on your card," stammered one of the
detectives.
"It was? . . . it was?" said Guerchard. "Then, by Jove, it was a forgery!"
He stood thoughtful for a moment. Then quietly he told his two men to go back to their post.
He did not stir for a minute or two, puzzling it out, seeking light.
 
 
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