Arsene Lupin HTML version

8. The Duke Arrives
The morning was gloomy, and the police-station with its bare, white- washed walls--their white
expanse was only broken by notice-boards to which were pinned portraits of criminals with
details of their appearance, their crime, and the reward offered for their apprehension--with its
shabby furniture, and its dingy fireplace, presented a dismal and sordid appearance entirely in
keeping with the September grey. The inspector sat at his desk, yawning after a night which
had passed without an arrest. He was waiting to be relieved. The policeman at the door and the
two policemen sitting on a bench by the wall yawned in sympathy.
The silence of the street was broken by the rattle of an uncommonly noisy motor-car. It
stopped before the door of the police-station, and the eyes of the inspector and his men turned,
idly expectant, to the door of the office.
It opened, and a young man in motor-coat and cap stood on the threshold.
He looked round the office with alert eyes, which took in everything, and said, in a brisk,
incisive voice: "I am the Duke of Charmerace. I am here on behalf of M. Gournay-Martin. Last
evening he received a letter from Arsene Lupin saying he was going to break into his Paris
house this very morning."
At the name of Arsene Lupin the inspector sprang from his chair, the policemen from their
bench. On the instant they were wide awake, attentive, full of zeal.
"The letter, your Grace!" said the inspector briskly.
The Duke pulled off his glove, drew the letter from the breast- pocket of his under-coat, and
handed it to the inspector.
The inspector glanced through it, and said. "Yes, I know the handwriting well." Then he read it
carefully, and added, "Yes, yes: it's his usual letter."
"There's no time to be lost," said the Duke quickly. "I ought to have been here hours ago-hours.
I had a break-down. I'm afraid I'm too late as it is."
"Come along, your Grace-come along, you" said the inspector briskly.
The four of them hurried out of the office and down the steps of the police-station. In the
roadway stood a long grey racing-car, caked with muds--grey mud, brown mud, red mud--from
end to end. It looked as if it had brought samples of the soil of France from many districts.
"Come along; I'll take you in the car. Your men can trot along beside us," said the Duke to the
He slipped into the car, the inspector jumped in and took the seat beside him, and they started.
They went slowly, to allow the two policemen to keep up with them. Indeed, the car could not
have made any great pace, for the tyre of the off hind-wheel was punctured and deflated.
In three minutes they came to the Gournay-Martin house, a wide- fronted mass of
undistinguished masonry, in an undistinguished row of exactly the same pattern. There were no
signs that any one was living in it. Blinds were drawn, shutters were up over all the windows,
upper and lower. No smoke came from any of its chimneys, though indeed it was full early for
Pulling a bunch of keys from his pocket, the Duke ran up the steps. The inspector followed
him. The Duke looked at the bunch, picked out the latch-key, and fitted it into the lock. It did
not open it. He drew it out and tried another key and another. The door remained locked.
"Let me, your Grace," said the inspector. "I'm more used to it. I shall be quicker."