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The Crystal Stopper

13. The Last Battle
When Prasville returned to his office he saw M. Nicole sitting on a bench in the waiting-
room, with his bent back, his ailing air, his gingham umbrella, his rusty hat and his single
"It's he all right," said Prasville, who had feared for a moment that Lupin might have sent
another M. Nicole to see him. "And the fact that he has come in person proves that he
does not suspect that I have seen through him." And, for the third time, he said, "All the
same, what a nerve!"
He shut the door of his office and called his secretary:
"M. Lartigue, I am having a rather dangerous person shown in here. The chances are that
he will have to leave my office with the bracelets on. As soon as he is in my room, make
all the necessary arrangements: send for a dozen inspectors and have them posted in the
waiting-room and in your office. And take this as a definite instruction: the moment I
ring, you are all to come in, revolvers in hand, and surround the fellow. Do you quite
"Yes, monsieur le secretaire-general."
"Above all, no hesitation. A sudden entrance, in a body, revolvers in hand. Send M.
Nicole in, please."
As soon as he was alone, Prasville covered the push of an electric bell on his desk with
some papers and placed two revolvers of respectable dimensions behind a rampart of
"And now," he said to himself, "to sit tight. If he has the list, let's collar it. If he hasn't,
let's collar him. And, if possible, let's collar both. Lupin and the list of the Twenty-seven,
on the same day, especially after the scandal of this morning, would be a scoop in a
There was a knock at the door.
"Come in!" said Prasville.
And, rising from his seat:
"Come in, M. Nicole, come in."
M. Nicole crept timidly into the room, sat down on the extreme edge of the chair to
which Prasville pointed and said: