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Arsene Lupin

19. The Duke Goes
When Guerchard joined the Duke in the drawing-room, he had lost his calm air and was
looking more than a little nervous. He moved about the room uneasily, fingering the bric-a-
brac, glancing at the Duke and looking quickly away from him again. Then he came to a
standstill on the hearth-rug with his back to the fireplace.
"Do you think it's quite safe to stand there, at least with your back to the hearth? If Lupin
dropped through that opening suddenly, he'd catch you from behind before you could wink
twice," said the Duke, in a tone of remonstrance.
"There would always be your Grace to come to my rescue," said Guerchard; and there was an
ambiguous note in his voice, while his piercing eyes now rested fixed on the Duke's face. They
seemed never to leave it; they explored, and explored it.
"It's only a suggestion," said the Duke.
"This is rather nervous work, don't you know."
"Yes; and of course you're hardly fit for it," said Guerchard. "If I'd known about your break-
down in your car last night, I should have hesitated about asking you--"
"A break-down?" interrupted the Duke.
"Yes, you left Charmerace at eight o'clock last night. And you only reached Paris at six this
morning. You couldn't have had a very high-power car?" said Guerchard.
"I had a 100 h.-p. car," said the Duke.
"Then you must have had a devil of a break-down," said Guerchard.
"Yes, it was pretty bad, but I've known worse," said the Duke carelessly. "It lost me about three
hours: oh, at least three hours. I'm not a first-class repairer, though I know as much about an
engine as most motorists."
"And there was nobody there to help you repair it?" said Guerchard.
"No; M. Gournay-Martin could not let me have his chauffeur to drive me to Paris, because he
was keeping him to help guard the chateau. And of course there was nobody on the road,
because it was two o'clock in the morning."
"Yes, there was no one," said Guerchard slowly.
"Not a soul," said the Duke.
"It was unfortunate," said Guerchard; and there was a note of incredulity in his voice.
"My having to repair the car myself?" said the Duke.
"Yes, of course," said Guerchard, hesitating a little over the assent.
The Duke dropped the end of his cigarette into a tray, and took out his case. He held it out
towards Guerchard, and said, "A cigarette? or perhaps you prefer your caporal?"
"Yes, I do, but all the same I'll have one," said Guerchard, coming quickly across the room.
And he took a cigarette from the case, and looked at it.
"All the same, all this is very curious," he said in a new tone, a challenging, menacing,
accusing tone.
"What?" said the Duke, looking at him curiously.
"Everything: your cigarettes . . . the salvias . . . the photograph that Bonavent found in
Victoire's prayer-book . . . that man in motoring dress . . . and finally, your break-down," said
Guerchard; and the accusation and the threat rang clearer.
 
 
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