The Crystal Stopper HTML version

4. The Chief Of The Enemies
"Poor boy!" murmured Lupin, when his eyes fell on Gilbert's letter next morning. "How
he must feel it!"
On the very first day when he saw him, he had taken a liking to that well-set-up
youngster, so careless, gay and fond of life. Gilbert was devoted to him, would have
accepted death at a sign from his master. And Lupin also loved his frankness, his good
humour, his simplicity, his bright, open face.
"Gilbert," he often used to say, "you are an honest man. Do you know, if I were you, I
should chuck the business and become an honest man for good."
"After you, governor," Gilbert would reply, with a laugh.
"Won't you, though?"
"No, governor. An honest man is a chap who works and grinds. It's a taste which I may
have had as a nipper; but they've made me lose it since."
"Who's they?"
Gilbert was silent. He was always silent when questioned about his early life; and all that
Lupin knew was that he had been an orphan since childhood and that he had lived all
over the place, changing his name and taking up the queerest jobs. The whole thing was a
mystery which no one had been able to fathom; and it did not look as though the police
would make much of it either.
Nor, on the other hand, did it look as though the police would consider that mystery a
reason for delaying proceedings. They would send Vaucheray's accomplice for trial--
under his name of Gilbert or any other name--and visit him with the same inevitable
"Poor boy!" repeated Lupin. "They're persecuting him like this only because of me. They
are afraid of his escaping and they are in a hurry to finish the business: the verdict first
and then... the execution.
"Oh, the butchers!... A lad of twenty, who has committed no murder, who is not even an
accomplice in the murder..."
Alas, Lupin well knew that this was a thing impossible to prove and that he must
concentrate his efforts upon another point. But upon which? Was he to abandon the trail
of the crystal stopper?