Rouletabille, an infallible unraveller of criminal mysteries, figures in an atmosphere of vodka, nihilists and unpronounceable names.
"My young friend," said she, in a voice more and more hesitant, "you must excuse me, but it is a long time since I have had good eyes for reading."
Tears, at last, ran down her cheeks.
Rouletabille could not restrain himself any further. He saw in one flash all this heroic woman had suffered in her combat day by day with the death which hovered. He took her little fat hands, whose fingers were overloaded with rings, tremulously into his own:
"Madame, do not weep. They wish to kill your husband. Well then, we will be two at least to defend him, I swear to you."
"Even against the Nihilists!"
"Aye, madame, against all the world. I have eaten all your caviare. I am your guest. I am your friend."
As he said this he was so excited, so sincere and so droll that Madame Trebassof could not help smiling through her tears. She made him sit down beside her.
"The Chief of Police has talked of you a great deal. He came here abruptly after the last attack