The Hollow Needle HTML version

10. The Treasures Of The Kings Of France
A curtain was drawn back.
"Good morning, my dear Beautrelet, you're a little late. Lunch was fixed for twelve.
However, it's only a few minutes--but what's the matter? Don't you know me? Have I
changed so much?"
In the course of his fight with Lupin, Beautrelet had met with many surprises and he was
still prepared, at the moment of the final catastrophe, to experience any number of further
emotions; but the shock which he received this time was utterly unexpected. It was not
astonishment, but stupefaction, terror. The man who stood before him, the man whom the
brutal force of events compelled him to look upon as Arsene Lupin, was--Valmeras!
Valmeras, the owner of the Chateau de l'Aiguille! Valmeras, the very man to whom he
had applied for assistance against Arsene Lupin! Valmeras, his companion on the
expedition to Crozant! Valmeras, the plucky friend who had made Raymonde's escape
possible by felling one of Lupin's accomplices, or pretending to fell him, in the dusk of
the great hall! And Valmeras was Lupin!
"You--you--So it's you!" he stammered.
"Why not?" exclaimed Lupin. "Did you think that you knew me for good and all because
you had seen me in the guise of a clergyman or under the features of M. Massiban? Alas,
when a man selects the position in society which I occupy, he must needs make use of his
little social gifts! If Lupin were not able to change himself, at will, into a minister of the
Church of England or a member of the Academy of Inscriptions and Belles-Lettres, it
would be a bad lookout for Lupin! Now Lupin, the real Lupin, is here before you,
Beautrelet! Take a good look at him."
"But then--if it's you--then--Mademoiselle--"
"Yes, Beautrelet, as you say--"
He again drew back the hanging, beckoned and announced:
"Mme. Arsene Lupin."
"Ah," murmured the lad, confounded in spite of everything, "Mlle. de Saint-Veran!"
"No, no," protested Lupin. "Mme. Arsene Lupin, or rather, if you prefer, Mme. Louis
Valmeras, my wedded wife, married to me in accordance with the strictest forms of law;
and all thanks to you, my dear Beautrelet."
He held out his hand to him.