The Crystal Stopper HTML version

7. The Profile Of Napoleon
Soon as the prefect of police, the chief of the criminal-investigation department and the
examining-magistrates had left Daubrecq's house, after a preliminary and entirely
fruitless inquiry, Prasville resumed his personal search.
He was examining the study and the traces of the struggle which had taken place there,
when the portress brought him a visiting-card, with a few words in pencil scribbled upon
"Show the lady in," he said.
"The lady has some one with her," said the portress.
"Oh? Well, show the other person in as well."
Clarisse Mergy entered at once and introduced the gentleman with her, a gentleman in a
black frock-coat, which was too tight for him and which looked as though it had not been
brushed for ages. He was shy in his manner and seemed greatly embarrassed how to
dispose of his old, rusty top-hat, his gingham umbrella, his one and only glove and his
body generally.
"M. Nicole," said Clarisse, "a private teacher, who is acting as tutor to my little Jacques.
M. Nicole has been of the greatest help to me with his advice during the past year. He
worked out the whole story of the crystal stopper. I should like him, as well as myself--if
you see no objection to telling me--to know the details of this kidnapping business, which
alarms me and upsets my plans; yours too, I expect?"
Prasville had every confidence in Clarisse Mergy. He knew her relentless hatred of
Daubrecq and appreciated the assistance which she had rendered in the case. He therefore
made no difficulties about telling her what he knew, thanks to certain clues and especially
to the evidence of the portress.
For that matter, the thing was exceedingly simple. Daubrecq, who had attended the trial
of Gilbert and Vaucheray as a witness and who was seen in court during the speeches,
returned home at six o'clock. The portress affirmed that he came in alone and that there
was nobody in the house at the time. Nevertheless, a few minutes later, she heard shouts,
followed by the sound of a struggle and two pistol-shots; and from her lodge she saw four
masked men scuttle down the front steps, carrying Daubrecq the deputy, and hurry
toward the gate. They opened the gate. At the same moment, a motor-car arrived outside
the house. The four men bundled themselves into it; and the motor-car, which had hardly
had time to stop, set off at full speed.
"Were there not always two policemen on duty?" asked Clarisse.