The Mystery of the Yellow Room HTML version

Chapter 1
In Which We Begin Not to Understand
It is not without a certain emotion that I begin to recount here the extraordinary
adventures of Joseph Rouletabille. Down to the present time he had so firmly opposed
my doing it that I had come to despair of ever publishing the most curious of police
stories of the past fifteen years. I had even imagined that the public would never know
the whole truth of the prodigious case known as that of The Yellow Room, out of which
grew so many mysterious, cruel, and sensational dramas, with which my friend was so
closely mixed up, if, propos of a recent nomination of the illustrious Stangerson to the
grade of grandcross of the Legion of Honour, an evening journal--in an article, miserable
for its ignorance, or audacious for its perfidy--had not resuscitated a terrible adventure of
which Joseph Rouletabille had told me he wished to be for ever forgotten.
The Yellow Room! Who now remembers this affair which caused so much ink to flow
fifteen years ago? Events are so quickly forgotten in Paris. Has not the very name of the
Nayves trial and the tragic history of the death of little Menaldo passed out of mind? And
yet the public attention was so deeply interested in the details of the trial that the
occurrence of a ministerial crisis was completely unnoticed at the time. Now The Yellow
Room trial, which, preceded that of the Nayves by some years, made far more noise. The
entire world hung for months over this obscure problem --the most obscure, it seems to
me, that has ever challenged the perspicacity of our police or taxed the conscience of our
judges. The solution of the problem baffled everybody who tried to find it. It was like a
dramatic rebus with which old Europe and new America alike became fascinated. That is,
in truth--I am permitted to say, because there cannot be any author's vanity in all this,
since I do nothing more than transcribe facts on which an exceptional documentation
enables me to throw a new light--that is because, in truth, I do not know that, in the
domain of reality or imagination, one can discover or recall to mind anything
comparable, in its mystery, with the natural mystery of The Yellow Room.
That which nobody could find out, Joseph Rouletabille, aged eighteen, then a reporter
engaged on a leading journal, succeeded in discovering. But when, at the Assize Court,
he brought in the key to the whole case, he did not tell the whole truth. He only allowed
so much of it to appear as sufficed to ensure the acquittal of an innocent man. The
reasons which he had for his reticence no longer exist. Better still, the time has come for
my friend to speak out fully. You are going to know all; and, without further preamble, I
am going to place before your eyes the problem of The Yellow Room as it was placed
before the eyes of the entire world on the day following the enactment of the drama at the
Chateau du Glandier.
On the 25th of October, 1892, the following note appeared in the latest edition of the