The Hollow Needle HTML version
3. The Corpse
At six o'clock in the evening, having finished all he had to do, M. Filluel, accompanied
by M. Bredoux, his clerk, stood waiting for the carriage which was to take him back to
Dieppe. He seemed restless, nervous. Twice over, he asked:
"You haven't seen anything of young Beautrelet, I suppose?"
"No, Monsieur le Juge d'Instruction, I can't say I have."
"Where on earth can he be? I haven't set eyes on him all day!"
Suddenly, he had an idea, handed his portfolio to Bredoux, ran round the chateau and
made for the ruins. Isidore Beautrelet was lying near the cloisters, flat on his face, with
one arm folded under his head, on the ground carpeted with pine-needles. He seemed
"Hullo, young man, what are you doing here? Are you asleep?"
I'm not asleep. I've been thinking."
"Ever since this morning?"
"Ever since this morning."
"It's not a question of thinking! One must see into things first, study facts, look for clues,
establish connecting links. The time for thinking comes after, when one pieces all that
together and discovers the truth."
"Yes, I know.--That's the usual way, the right one, I dare say.-- Mine is different.--I think
first, I try, above all, to get the general hang of the case, if I may so express myself. Then
I imagine a reasonable and logical hypothesis, which fits in with the general idea. And
then, and not before, I examine the facts to see if they agree with my hypothesis."
"That's a funny method and a terribly complicated one!"
"It's a sure method, M. Filleul, which is more than can be said of yours."
"Come, come! Facts are facts."
"With your ordinary sort of adversary, yes. But, given an enemy endowed with a certain
amount of cunning, the facts are those which he happens to have selected. Take the
famous clues upon which you base your inquiry: why, he was at liberty to arrange them
as he liked. And you see where that can lead you, into what mistakes and absurdities,