“I am beaten at a game in which I did my own shuffling. I never believe in trying to bluff a full hand. Had I had but ordinary detectives with whom to deal, I make bold to say I should have come off rich and triumphant. I had no means of knowing that I was to play with a chemist who would use against me the latest scientific implements of criminal warfare. It is, therefore, to the extraordinary means used for my detection that I impute my defeat, rather than to any bungling of my own. This is a grim consolation, but it is still a consolation, for I have always prided myself upon being an artist in my line. As I propose to put myself beyond the reach of further cross-examination, I take this opportunity to make a last statement of such things as I care to have known. After this is finished I shall sup on acetate of lead and bid good-night to the expectant public.
“Lest some may marvel how I came by this poison, and even lay suspicions upon my jailers, let me explain that there is a small piece of lead water-pipe crossing the west angle of my room. This being Sunday, I was permitted to have beans and brown bread for breakfast. I asked for a little vinegar for my beans, and a small cruet was brought to me. I had no difficulty in secreting a considerable quantity of the vinegar in order that I might, when occasion served, apply it to the lead pipe. This I have done, and have now by me enough acetate of lead to kill a dozen men. This form of death will not be particularly pleasant, I am aware, but I prefer it to its only alternative. So much for that.
“I was horn in Marseilles, and my right name is Jean Fouchet. My father intended me for the priesthood, and gave me a good college education in Paris. His hopes, however, were destined to disappointment. In college I formed the habit of gambling, and a year after my graduation found me at Monte Carlo. While there I quarrelled with a gambling accomplice and ended by killing him. This made my stay in France dangerous for me, and I took the first opportunity which presented itself to embark for America.
“Familiarity with criminals had made me familiar with crime, and I added the occupation of detective to my profession of gambling. These two avocations had now become my sole means of support, and I plied my trades in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia for several years, during which time I became a naturalised citizen of the United States.
“When the Cuban rebellion broke out I could not restrain my longing for adventure, and joined a filibustering expedition sailing from New York. I did this from no love I bore the Cuban cause, but merely for the excitement it promised. While handling a heavy shot during my first engagement I accidentally dropped it upon my left foot, crushing that member so badly that it has never regained its shape. This deformity has rendered it impossible for me to conceal my identity. Three months after this accident I was taken prisoner by the Spanish and shipped to Spain as a political malefactor. A farce of a trial was granted to me, not to see whether or not I was guilty, but simply to determine between the dungeon and the garrote. It would have been far better for me had I been sentenced to the latter instead of the former.