(Essentials of European Literature)

Prosper Bertomy, a trusted cashier, came into the bank rather late one morning. Louis de Clameran was impatiently waiting, for the bank had agreed to have his three hundred and fifty thousand francs ready for him that day. Prosper hurried to the safe to get the money, but when he opened the door, he discovered that the money was gone.

In great agitation, he called for M. Fauvel. When a search failed to reveal the missing money, M. Fauvel called the police. During a preliminary questioning, it was learned that only Prosper and his employer, M. Fauvel, had keys to the safe. Only they knew the word to use on the alphabetical combination. Either M. Fauvel or Prosper had taken the money.

It was unthinkable that dignified, upright M. Fauvel would steal from himself. Prosper, on the other hand, had lost heavily at the gaming tables and he was the intimate of Raoul de Lagors, the dissolute nephew of Madame Valentine Fauvel. Prosper’s richly furnished apartment was presided over by the beautiful but notorious woman known as Gypsy. In the light of these facts, M. Fauvel raised no objection when the police took Prosper off to jail.

As Prosper left the bank, he contrived to throw a folded note to Cavaillon, a young friend. Following the directions, Cavaillon set off to deliver the message. Fanferlot, a detective, followed Cavaillon until the youth turned into an apartment building. There the detective easily cowed Cavaillon and took away the note, which warned Gypsy to flee immediately. Fanferlot, posing as Prosper’s friend, delivered the note and induced the frightened girl to move into lodgings at the Archangel, a hotel run by Madame Alexandre, secretly Fanferlot’s wife. Well pleased with himself, Fanferlot went back to headquarters to report.

Convinced of Prosper’s guilt, the examining judge pried into the cashier’s financial affairs with detailed knowledge of that unhappy man’s speculations. He even knew that Gypsy’s real name was Chocareille and that she had once been in prison. The judge brought out the fact that Prosper had also been the favored suitor of Madeleine, the niece of the Fauvels, but that the intimacy had been broken off suddenly. Throughout the investigation, Prosper stoutly maintained his innocence. Unable to shake his story, the judge sent Prosper back to his cell.

At the Archangel, Fanferlot kept a close watch on Gypsy. One day she received a note asking her to meet an unknown man at a public rendezvous. Fanferlot trailed her to the meeting and saw her talking to a fat man with red whiskers. When they left in a cab, Fanferlot jumped on the springs behind them. As soon as the horses pulled up, he withdrew into an areaway to watch; but no one got out. Gypsy and her escort had given him the slip by getting in one...

(The entire section is 1142 words.)