As Ralph had supposed all the vast network of intrigue woven to acquire the legendary treasure was never brought to the light of day. The suicide of Beaumagnan; the crimes of Madam Pellegrini, the mysterious personality of the Countess of Cagliostro, her flight, the shipwreck of the Glowworm, all these divers facts, Justice could not, or would not, link together. The memorandum of the Cardinal Bishop was destroyed, or disappeared. The associates of Beaumagnan disbanded and did not speak. The world knew nothing.

Necessarily the part that Ralph had played in the affair could not even be suspected; and his marriage passed unnoticed. By what miracle did he succeed in marrying under the name of the Vicomte d’Andresy? Doubtless one must attribute this exploit to the formidable means of action afforded him by the two or three handfuls of precious stones saved from the treasure. With those means one can get many things winked at.

And it was by those means evidently that one day the name of Lupin was found to have vanished. On no register and on no documents was there any longer any trace of Arsène Lupin, or of his father, Theophrastus Lupin. Legally there was only the Vicomte Ralph d’Andresy; and that Vicomte went on his travels through Europe with the Vicomtesse, née Clarice d’Etigues.

In the course of their travels news came to them of the death of the Baron d’Etigues. He perished, along with his cousin Oscar de Bennetot, while they were out rowing. Was it an accident? Was it suicide? During the last days of their lives the two cousins had been reckoned mad; and it was generally agreed that they had committed suicide. But there was also another version which hinted at crime. There were people who declared that a yacht had run down the boat and disappeared. But of this there was no proof.

Whatever the facts might be, Clarice would not touch her father’s fortune. She divided it among charitable institutions.

The years rolled on, delightful and careless years. Ralph kept one of the promises which he had made to Clarice: she was profoundly happy. The other promise he did not keep: he was not honest.

Honesty seemed to be beyond his power. He had in his blood the need to take, to scheme, to mystify, to dupe, to amuse himself at other people’s expense. He was by instinct smuggler, filibuster, marauder, pirate, plotter, and above all chief of a gang. Besides, in the school of Josephine, he had discovered, not without pride, really exceptional qualities in himself which rendered him practically without peer. He believed in his genius. He conferred on himself the right to a fantastic destiny, and one contrary to the destiny of all the men who were his contemporaries. He would be above all of them. He would be the master.

Without the knowledge of Clarice then, without indeed the young woman’s having the least suspicion of it, he carried on enterprises and brought to success affairs in which his authority grew stronger and stronger and his really superhuman gifts developed.4

But before everything he told himself, the repose and happiness of Clarice! He respected his wife. That she should be, and that she should know herself to be the wife of a thief, that he could not allow.

Their happiness lasted five years; at the beginning of the sixth year Clarice died in giving birth to a son called Jean.

The very day after her death that son disappeared, without the slightest clue which allowed Ralph to discover who had entered the little house at Auteuil in which he lived or how they had been able to enter it.

As for the matter of guessing whose hand had struck the blow, there was no need to hesitate about that. Ralph, who had never doubted that the drowning of the two cousins had been brought about by the Countess of Cagliostro, Ralph, who yet later had learned that Dominique had died of poison, Ralph regarded it as settled that the Countess of Cagliostro was the author of the abduction. His grief transformed him. Having no longer either wife or son to restrain him, he flung himself with all his heart into the course to which so many forces impelled him. From that day on he was Arsène Lupin. There was no longer any reservation, any compromise. On the contrary: scandals, challenges, arrogance, an unbridled display of vanity and mockery, his name written on the walls, his visiting card in strongrooms. Arsène Lupin, what!

But whether he was passing under this name or under any other of the different names it pleased him to assume, whether he called himself Count Bernard d’Andresy (he had stolen the papers of a cousin of his family, who had died abroad) or Horace Velmont, or Colonel Sparmiento, or the Duke of Charmerace, or Prince Sernine, or Don Luis Perenna, always and everywhere, in all his avatars and beneath all his masks, he hunted for the Countess of Cagliostro, he hunted for his son Jean. He did not find his son. He never saw Josephine again. Was she still alive? Did she dare to risk entering France? Did she continue to persecute and to kill? Could he admit, considering what she was, that the menace eternally held over him since the very moment of their rupture would not take effect in some vengeance yet more cruel than the abduction of his son?

All the life of Arsène Lupin, wild enterprises, superhuman trials, unheard of triumphs, unmeasured passions, extravagant ambitions, all these had to run their course before events permitted him to answer this formidable question.

And so it came about that his first adventure linked itself, more than a quarter of a century later, to the adventure which it pleases him to consider today his last.