Monsieur Lecoq HTML version

Chapter 17
On his way back to his office, M. Segmuller mentally reviewed the position of
affairs; and came to the conclusion that as he had failed to take the citadel of
defense by storm, he must resign himself to a regular protracted siege. He was
exceedingly annoyed at the constant failures that had attended all Lecoq's
efforts; for time was on the wing, and he knew that in a criminal investigation
delay only increased the uncertainty of success. The more promptly a crime is
followed by judicial action the easier it is to find the culprit, and prove his guilt.
The longer investigation is delayed the more difficult it becomes to adduce
conclusive evidence.
In the present instance there were various matters that M. Segmuller might at
once attend to. With which should he begin? Ought he not to confront May, the
Widow Chupin, and Polyte with the bodies of their victims? Such horrible
meetings have at times the most momentous results, and more than one
murderer when unsuspectedly brought into the presence of his victim's lifeless
corpse has changed color and lost his assurance.
Then there were other witnesses whom M. Segmuller might examine. Papillon,
the cab-driver; the concierge of the house in the Rue de Bourgogne--where the
two women flying from the Poivriere had momentarily taken refuge; as well as a
certain Madame Milner, landlady of the Hotel de Mariembourg. In addition, it
would also be advisable to summon, with the least possible delay, some of the
people residing in the vicinity of the Poivriere; together with some of Polyte's
habitual companions, and the landlord of the Rainbow, where the victims and the
murderer had apparently passed the evening of the crime. Of course, there was
no reason to expect any great revelations from any of these witnesses, still they
might know something, they might have an opinion to express, and in the present
darkness one single ray of light, however faint, might mean salvation.