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The Woman of Mystery

Maurice Leblanc

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The Woman of Mystery, also known as The Shell Shard, is the eighth book in the Arsene Lupin series by Maurice Leblanc. This book wasn't originally part of the series and in this 1916 edition, Lupin doesn't even feature in it. He was written into the story in the 1923 edition.

№ 8 in the Arsène Lupin series.

This book has 194 pages in the PDF version, and was originally published in 1916.

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Excerpt from 'The Woman of Mystery'

"Suppose I were to tell you," said Paul Delroze, "that I once stood face to face with him on French. . . ."

Élisabeth looked up at him with the fond expression of a bride to whom the least word of the man she loves is a subject of wonder:

"You have seen William II. in France?"

"Saw him with my own eyes; and I have never forgotten a single one of the details that marked the meeting. And yet it happened very long ago."

He was speaking with a sudden seriousness, as though the revival of that memory had awakened the most painful thoughts in his mind.

"Tell me about it, won't you, Paul?" asked Élisabeth.

"Yes, I will," he said. "In any case, though I was only a child at the time, the incident played so tragic a part in my life that I am bound to tell you the whole story."

The train stopped and they got out at Corvigny, the last station on the local branch line which, starting from the chief town in the department, runs through the Liseron Valley and ends, fifteen miles from the frontier, at the foot of the little Lorraine city which Vauban, as he tells us in his "Memoirs," surrounded "with the most perfect demilunes imaginable."

The railway-station presented an appearance of unusual animation. There were numbers of soldiers, including many officers. A crowd of passengers—tradespeople, peasants, workmen and visitors to the neighboring health-resorts served by Corvigny—stood amid piles of luggage on the platform, awaiting the departure of the next train for the junction.

It was the last Thursday in July, the Thursday before the mobilization of the French army.

Élisabeth pressed up against her husband:

"Oh, Paul," she said, shivering with anxiety, "if only we don't have war!"

"War! What an idea!"

"But look at all these people leaving, all these families running away from the frontier!"

"That proves nothing."

"No, but you saw it in the paper just now. The news is very bad. Germany is preparing for war. She has planned the whole thing. . . . Oh, Paul, if we were to be separated! . . . I should know nothing about you . . . and you might be wounded . . . and . . ."

He squeezed her hand:

"Don't be afraid, Élisabeth. Nothing of the kind will happen. There can't be war unless somebody declares it. And who would be fool enough, criminal enough, to do anything so abominable?"

"I am not afraid," she said, "and I am sure that I should be very brave if you had to go. Only . . . only it would be worse for us than for anybody else. Just think, darling: we were only married this morning!"

At this reference to their wedding of a few hours ago, containing so great a promise of deep and lasting joy, her charming face lit up, under its halo of golden curls, with a smile of utter trustfulness; and she whispered:

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