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The Mystery of the Yellow Room

Chapter 5
In Which Joseph Rouletabille Makes a Remark to Monsieur Robert Darzac Which
Produces Its Little Effect
Rouletabille and I had been walking for several minutes, by the side of a long wall
bounding the vast property of Monsieur Stangerson and had already come within sight of
the entrance gate, when our attention was drawn to an individual who, half bent to the
ground, seemed to be so completely absorbed in what he was doing as not to have seen us
coming towards him. At one time he stooped so low as almost to touch the ground; at
another he drew himself up and attentively examined the wall; then he looked into the
palm of one of his hands, and walked away with rapid strides. Finally he set off running,
still looking into the palm of his hand. Rouletabille had brought me to a standstill by a
gesture.
"Hush! Frederic Larsan is at work! Don't let us disturb him!"
Rouletabille had a great admiration for the celebrated detective. I had never before seen
him, but I knew him well by reputation. At that time, before Rouletabille had given proof
of his unique talent, Larsan was reputed as the most skilful unraveller of the most
mysterious and complicated crimes. His reputation was world-wide, and the police of
London, and even of America, often called him in to their aid when their own national
inspectors and detectives found themselves at the end of their wits and resources.
No one was astonished, then, that the head of the Surete had, at the outset of the mystery
of The Yellow Room, telegraphed his precious subordinate to London, where he had
been sent on a big case of stolen securities, to return with all haste. Frederic who, at the
Surete, was called the "great Frederic," had made all speed, doubtless knowing by
experience that, if he was interrupted in what he was doing, it was because his services
were urgently needed in another direction; so, as Rouletabille said, he was that morning
already "at work." We soon found out in what it consisted.
What he was continually looking at in the palm of his right hand was nothing but his
watch, the minute hand of which he appeared to be noting intently. Then he turned back
still running, stopping only when he reached the park gate, where he again consulted his
watch and then put it away in his pocket, shrugging his shoulders with a gesture of
discouragement. He pushed open the park gate, reclosed and locked it, raised his head
and, through the bars, perceived us. Rouletabille rushed after him, and I followed.
Frederic Larsan waited for us.
"Monsieur Fred," said Rouletabille, raising his hat and showing the profound respect,
based on admiration, which the young reporter felt for the celebrated detective, "can you
tell me whether Monsieur Robert Darzac is at the chateau at this moment? Here is one of
his friends, of the Paris Bar, who desires to speak with him."
 
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