The Hollow Needle HTML version

6. An Historic Secret
Beautrelet's resolve was soon taken: he would act alone. To inform the police was too
dangerous. Apart from the fact that he could only offer presumptions, he dreaded the
slowness of the police, their inevitable indiscretions, the whole preliminary inquiry,
during which Lupin, who was sure to be warned, would have time to effect a retreat in
good order.
At eight o'clock the next morning, with his bundle under his arm, he left the inn in which
he was staying near Cuzion, made for the nearest thicket, took off his workman's clothes,
became once more the young English painter that he had been and went to call on the
notary at Eguzon, the largest place in the immediate neighborhood.
He said that he liked the country and that he was thinking of taking up his residence
there, with his relations, if he could find a suitable house.
The notary mentioned a number of properties. Beautrelet took note of them and let fall
that some one had spoken to him of the Chateau de l'Aiguille, on the bank of the Creuse.
"Oh, yes, but the Chateau de l'Aiguille, which has belonged to one of my clients for the
last five years, is not for sale."
"He lives in it, then?"
"He used to live in it, or rather his mother did. But she did not care for it; found the castle
rather gloomy. So they left it last year."
"And is no one living there at present?"
"Yes, an Italian, to whom my client let it for the summer season: Baron Anfredi."
"Oh, Baron Anfredi! A man still young, rather grave and solemn- looking--?"
"I'm sure I can't say.--My client dealt with him direct. There was no regular agreement,
just a letter--"
"But you know the baron?"
"No, he never leaves the castle.--Sometimes, in his motor, at night, so they say. The
marketing is done by an old cook, who talks to nobody. They are queer people--"
"Do you think your client would consent to sell his castle?"
"I don't think so. It's an historic castle, built in the purest Louis XIII. style. My client was
very fond of it; and, unless he has changed his mind--"