When, after a rapid walk of twenty minutes, Lecoq reached the police station
near the Barriere d'Italie, the doorkeeper, with his pipe in his mouth, was pacing
slowly to and fro before the guard-house. His thoughtful air, and the anxious
glances he cast every now and then toward one of the little grated windows of
the building sufficed to indicate that some very rare bird indeed had been
entrusted to his keeping. As soon as he recognized Lecoq, his brow cleared, and
he paused in his promenade.
"Ah, well!" he inquired, "what news do you bring?"
"I have an order to conduct the prisoners to the prefecture."
The keeper rubbed his hands, and his smile of satisfaction plainly implied that he
felt a load the less on his shoulders.
"Capital! capital!" he exclaimed. "The Black Maria, the prison van, will pass here
in less than an hour; we will throw them in, and hurry the driver off--"
Lecoq was obliged to interrupt the keeper's transports of satisfaction. "Are the
prisoners alone?" he inquired.
"Quite alone: the woman in one cell, and the man in the other. This has been a
remarkably quiet night, for Shrove Sunday! Quite surprising indeed! It is true your
hunt was interrupted."
"You had a drunken man here, however."
"No--yes--that's true--this morning just at daybreak. A poor devil, who is under a
great obligation to Gevrol."