A hundred pounds it weighed, if an ounce, and at that estimate, according to their calculation, if their daring theory were correct, it stood there, worth twenty thousand golden dollars. Robbins removed the covering, and opened his pocket-knife. "Sacré!" muttered Dumars, shuddering. "It is the Mother of Christ. What would you do?" "Shut up, Judas!" said Robbins, coldly.
"Well, what next? Churchy law fem?" "Absinthe," said Dumars. With the history of the missing money thus partially related, some conjecture may be formed of the sudden idea that Madame Tibault's words seemed to have suggested to Robbins's brain.
"What, now?" asked Robbins, fingering his empty notebook. "Cherchez la femme," said Dumars, lighting a cigarette. "Try Lady Bellairs." This piece of femininity was the race-track favourite of the season. Being feminine, she was erratic in her gaits, and there were a few heavy losers about town who had believed she could be true. The reporters applied for information. Mr. Morin? Certainly not.
He's boun' spend that money, somehow." Madame turned a broad and contemplative smile upon Dumars. "I ond'stand you, M'sieur Dumars, those day you come ask fo' tell ev'ything I know 'bout M'sieur Morin. Ah! yes, I know most time when those men lose money you say 'Cherchez la femme' there is somewhere the woman. But not for M'sieur Morin. No, boys. Before he shall die, he is like one saint.
It was in the chapel of this house of the Little Sisters of Samaria that Robbins and Dumars had stood during that eager, fruitless news search of theirs, and looked upon the gilded statue of the Virgin. "Thass so, boys," said madame, summing up. "Thass ver' wicked man, M'sieur Morin. Everybody shall be cert' he steal those money I plaze in his hand for keep safe. Yes.
Dumars, a conventional Catholic, succumbed to the dramatic in the act. He bowed his head for an instant and made the sign of the cross. The somewhat abashed Robbins, murmuring an indistinct apology, backed awkwardly away. Sister Félicité drew back the curtain, and the reporters departed. On the narrow stone sidewalk of Bonhomme Street, Robbins turned to Dumars, with unworthy sarcasm.
Tell me is this a Grimm's fairy tale, or should I consult an oculist?" At his words, Madame Tibault and Dumars approached. "H'what you say?" said madame, cheerily. "H'what you say, M'sieur Robbin? Bon! Ah! those nize li'l peezes papier! One tam I think those w'at you call calendair, wiz ze li'l day of mont' below. But, no.
What we want to do is to forget to remember. I'll introduce you to the only lady in this case that is guaranteed to produce the desired results. Her name is Belle of Kentucky, twelve-year-old Bourbon. In quarts. How does the idea strike you?" "Allons!" said Dumars. "Cherchez la femme."
"There's your twenty thousand dollars, with coupons attached," he said, running his thumb around the edge of the four bonds. "Better get an expert to peel them off for you. Mister Morin was all right. I'm going out to get my ears trimmed." He dragged Dumars by the arm into the outer room.
"It's too late for you to be saved now." With a firm hand, he chipped a slice from the shoulder of the image. The cut showed a dull, grayish metal, with a thin coating of gold leaf. "Lead!" announced Robbins, hurling his knife to the floor "gilded!" "To the devil with it!" said Dumars, forgetting his scruples. "I must have a drink."