The Mystery of the Yellow Room HTML version

Chapter 3
A Man Has Passed Like a Shadow Through the Blinds
Half an hour later Rouletabille and I were on the platform of the Orleans station, awaiting
the departure of the train which was to take us to Epinay-sur-Orge.
On the platform we found Monsieur de Marquet and his Registrar, who represented the
Judicial Court of Corbeil. Monsieur Marquet had spent the night in Paris, attending the
final rehearsal, at the Scala, of a little play of which he was the unknown author, signing
himself simply "Castigat Ridendo."
Monsieur de Marquet was beginning to be a "noble old gentleman." Generally he was
extremely polite and full of gay humour, and in all his life had had but one passion,--that
of dramatic art. Throughout his magisterial career he was interested solely in cases
capable of furnishing him with something in the nature of a drama. Though he might very
well have aspired to the highest judicial positions, he had never really worked for
anything but to win a success at the romantic Porte-Saint-Martin, or at the sombre Odeon.
Because of the mystery which shrouded it, the case of The Yellow Room was certain to
fascinate so theatrical a mind. It interested him enormously, and he threw himself into it,
less as a magistrate eager to know the truth, than as an amateur of dramatic embroglios,
tending wholly to mystery and intrigue, who dreads nothing so much as the explanatory
final act.
So that, at the moment of meeting him, I heard Monsieur de Marquet say to the Registrar
with a sigh:
"I hope, my dear Monsieur Maleine, this builder with his pickaxe will not destroy so fine
a mystery."
"Have no fear," replied Monsieur Maleine, "his pickaxe may demolish the pavilion,
perhaps, but it will leave our case intact. I have sounded the walls and examined the
ceiling and floor and I know all about it. I am not to be deceived."
Having thus reassured his chief, Monsieur Maleine, with a discreet movement of the
head, drew Monsieur de Marquet's attention to us. The face of that gentleman clouded,
and, as he saw Rouletabille approaching, hat in hand, he sprang into one of the empty
carriages saying, half aloud to his Registrar, as he did so, "Above all, no journalists!"
Monsieur Maleine replied in the same tone, "I understand!" and then tried to prevent
Rouletabille from entering the same compartment with the examining magistrate.
"Excuse me, gentlemen,--this compartment is reserved."