Arsene Lupin HTML version

5. A Letter From Lupin
The Duke stood for a while staring thoughtfully at the door through which Sonia had passed, a
faint smile playing round his lips. He crossed the hall to the Chippendale bureau, took a
cigarette from a box which stood on the ledge of it, beside the morocco case which held the
pendant, lighted it, and went slowly out on to the terrace. He crossed it slowly, paused for a
moment on the edge of it, and looked across the stretch of country with musing eyes, which
saw nothing of its beauty. Then he turned to the right, went down a flight of steps to the lower
terrace, crossed the lawn, and took a narrow path which led into the heart of a shrubbery of tall
deodoras. In the middle of it he came to one of those old stone benches, moss-covered and
weather-stained, which adorn the gardens of so many French chateaux. It faced a marble basin
from which rose the slender column of a pattering fountain. The figure of a Cupid danced
joyously on a tall pedestal to the right of the basin. The Duke sat down on the bench, and was
still, with that rare stillness which only comes of nerves in perfect harmony, his brow knitted in
careful thought. Now and again the frown cleared from his face, and his intent features relaxed
into a faint smile, a smile of pleasant memory. Once he rose, walked round the fountains
frowning, came back to the bench, and sat down again. The early September dusk was upon
him when at last he rose and with quick steps took his way through the shrubbery, with the air
of a man whose mind, for good or ill, was at last made up.
When he came on to the upper terrace his eyes fell on a group which stood at the further
corner, near the entrance of the chateau, and he sauntered slowly up to it.
In the middle of it stood M. Gournay-Martin, a big, round, flabby hulk of a man. He was nearly
as red in the face as M. Charolais; and he looked a great deal redder owing to the extreme
whiteness of the whiskers which stuck out on either side of his vast expanse of cheek. As he
came up, it struck the Duke as rather odd that he should have the Charolais eyes, set close
together; any one who did not know that they were strangers to one another might have thought
it a family likeness.
The millionaire was waving his hands and roaring after the manner of a man who has
cultivated the art of brow-beating those with whom he does business; and as the Duke neared
the group, he caught the words:
"No; that's the lowest I'll take. Take it or leave it. You can say Yes, or you can say Good-bye;
and I don't care a hang which."
"It's very dear," said M. Charolais, in a mournful tone.
"Dear!" roared M. Gournay-Martin. "I should like to see any one else sell a hundred horse-
power car for eight hundred pounds. Why, my good sir, you're having me!"
"No, no," protested M. Charolais feebly.
"I tell you you're having me," roared M. Gournay-Martin. "I'm letting you have a magnificent
car for which I paid thirteen hundred pounds for eight hundred! It's scandalous the way you've
beaten me down!"
"No, no," protested M. Charolais.
He seemed frightened out of his life by the vehemence of the big man.
"You wait till you've seen how it goes," said M. Gournay-Martin.
"Eight hundred is very dear," said M. Charolais.