Obstinate men of Father Absinthe's stamp, who are at first always inclined to
differ from other people's opinions, are the very individuals who end in madly
adopting them. When an idea has at last penetrated their empty brains, they twist
and turn it, dwell upon it, and develop it until it exceeds the bounds of reason.
Hence, the police veteran was now much more strongly convinced than his
companion that the usually clever Gevrol had been mistaken, and accordingly he
laughed the inspector to scorn. On hearing Lecoq affirm that women had taken
part in the horrible scene at the Poivriere, his joy was extreme--"A fine affair!" he
exclaimed; "an excellent case!" And suddenly recollecting a maxim that has been
handed down from the time of Cicero, he added in sententious tones: "Who holds
the woman holds the cause!"
Lecoq did not deign to reply. He was standing upon the threshold, leaning
against the framework of the door, his hand pressed to his forehead, as
motionless as a statue. The discovery he had just made, and which so delighted
Father Absinthe, filled him with consternation. It was the death of his hopes, the
annihilation of the ingenious structure which his imagination had built upon the
foundation of a single sentence.
There was no longer any mystery--, so celebrity was not to be gained by a
For the presence of two women in this vile den explained everything in the most
natural and commonplace fashion. Their presence explained the quarrel, the
testimony of Widow Chupin, the dying declaration of the pretended soldier. The
behavior of the murderer was also explained. He had remained to cover the
retreat of the two women; he had sacrificed himself in order to save them, an act