Monsieur Lecoq eBook

Émile Gaboriau
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 365 pages of information about Monsieur Lecoq.

“And the other men,” he resumed, “those who were killed:  did you know them?”

“No, good sir, no more than I knew Adam and Eve.”

“And were you not surprised to see three men utterly unknown to you, and accompanied by two women, enter your establishment?”

“Sometimes chance—­”

“Come! you do not think of what you are saying.  It was not chance that brought these customers, in the middle of the night, to a wine-shop with a reputation like yours—­an establishment situated far from any frequented route in the midst of a desolate waste.”

“I’m not a sorceress; I say what I think.”

“Then you did not even know the youngest of the victims, the man who was attired as a soldier, he who was named Gustave?”

“Not at all.”

M. Segmuller noted the intonation of this response, and then slowly added:  “But you must have heard of one of Gustave’s friends, a man called Lacheneur?”

On hearing this name, the landlady of the Poivriere became visibly embarrassed, and it was in an altered voice that she stammered:  “Lacheneur!  Lacheneur! no, I have never heard that name mentioned.”

Still despite her denial, the effect of M. Segmuller’s remark was evident, and Lecoq secretly vowed that he would find this Lacheneur, at any cost.  Did not the “articles of conviction” comprise a letter sent by this man to Gustave, and written, so Lecoq had reason to believe, in a cafe on the Boulevard Beaumarchais?  With such a clue and a little patience, the mysterious Lacheneur might yet be discovered.

“Now,” continued M. Segmuller, “let us speak of the women who accompanied these unfortunate men.  What sort of women were they?”

“Oh! women of no account whatever!”

“Were they well dressed?”

“On the contrary, very miserably.”

“Well, give me a description of them.”

“They were tall and powerfully built, and indeed, as it was Shrove Sunday, I first of all took them for men in disguise.  They had hands like shoulders of mutton, gruff voices, and very black hair.  They were as dark as mulattoes—­”

“Enough!” interrupted the magistrate, “I require no further proof of your mendacity.  These women were short, and one of them was remarkably fair.”

“I swear to you, my good sir—­”

“Do not declare it upon oath.  I shall be forced to confront you with an honest man, who will tell you to your face that you are a liar!”

The widow did not reply, and there was a moment’s silence.  M. Segmuller determined to deal a decisive blow.  “Do you also affirm that you had nothing of a compromising character in the pocket of your apron?” he asked.

“Nothing—­you may have it examined; it was left in the house.”

“Then you still persist in your system,” resumed M. Segmuller.  “Believe me, you are wrong.  Reflect—­it rests with you to go to the Assize Court as a witness, or an accomplice.”

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Project Gutenberg
Monsieur Lecoq from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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