Maigret in Montmartre

Maigret in Montmartre by Georges Simenon Read Free Book Online

Book: Maigret in Montmartre by Georges Simenon Read Free Book Online
Authors: Georges Simenon
Tags: Fiction, General, Mystery & Detective
is. It seems she was one of the most beautiful women of her day, and was kept by some very wealthy man. She’s really in love with her husband. So she daren’t show any sign of jealousy and she tries to fix things so that everything happens in her own house. She feels it’s less dangerous that way—you understand?”
    “I understand.”
    “She was more scared about Arlette than about any of the others, and she’d hardly let her out of her sight. But it was Arlette who practically kept the place going. Without her, they won’t get a soul. The other girls are just the commonplace type you find in every cabaret in Montmartre.”
    “What happened last night?”
    “Did she say anything about it?”
    “She told Lucas you were with her, but she only mentioned your Christian name.”
    “I stayed till half past two.”
    “At what table?”
    “Number six.”
    He spoke like one who was at home in the place—almost as though he belonged there.
    “Was there anybody in the next box?”
    “Not in number four. A whole crowd came in to number eight—men and women, a very noisy lot.”
    “So if there had been anyone in number four you wouldn’t have noticed?”
    “Oh yes, I should. I didn’t want anyone to hear what I was saying, so I got up every now and then and looked over the partition.”
    “You didn’t see, at any table, a short, thick-set, middle-aged man with grey hair?”
    “No.”
    “And while you were talking to Arlette, she didn’t seem as though she were listening to any other conversation?”
    “I’m certain she wasn’t. Why?”
    “Would you like to go on working on the case, with me?”
    The young man looked at Maigret, first in surprise and then with a sudden flush of gratitude.
    “You’ll really let me, although…”
    “Now listen—this is important. When she left Picratt’s at four o’clock this morning, Arlette went to the police station in the Rue de La Rochefoucauld. The Sergeant who took down her statement says she was very strung up, and not too steady on her feet.
    “She talked to him about two men who came in and sat down at number four table while she was at number six with you, and said she had overheard part of their conversation.”
    “Why on earth did she say that?”
    “That’s what I want to find out. When we know that, we shall probably be a lot further on than we are at present. And that’s not all. The men were talking about some Countess that one of them was planning to murder. Arlette said that when they left she got a clear view of them from behind, and that one of them was middle-aged, shortish, broad-shouldered, and grey-haired. And that during the conversation she caught the name ‘Oscar’, which seemed to be addressed to this man.”
    “But I’m pretty sure I should have heard…”
    “I’ve been along to see Fred and his wife. They say the same—that table number four wasn’t occupied at all last night, and that nobody corresponding to that description came into Picratt’s. So Arlette must have had some information and wouldn’t or couldn’t confess how she’d come across it. She was drunk—you said so yourself. She didn’t think the police would bother to check where the clients had sat during the evening. You see what I mean?”
    “Yes. And what made her mention a name?”
    “Exactly. She wasn’t asked for one. There was no need for her to do it. So she must have had some good reason. She must have been giving us a clue. And that isn’t all. At the police station she seemed very sure of herself; but when she got here, after the effect of the champagne had worn off, she was much less talkative, and Lucas had the impression she’d have been glad to withdraw everything she’d said. And yet, as we know now, she hadn’t made it all up.”
    “I’m certain she hadn’t.”
    “She went home, and was strangled by someone who was waiting for her, hidden in her bedroom cupboard. Someone who must have known her very well, known his way about her

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