The Mystery of the Yellow Room
by Gaston Leroux

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This Etext prepared by an anonymous Project Gutenberg volunteer.





The Mystery of the Yellow Room

by Gaston Leroux




CHAPTER I

In Which We Begin Not to Understand


It is not without a certain emotion that I begin to recount here
the extraordinary adventures of Joseph Rouletabille. Down to the
present time he had so firmly opposed my doing it that I had come
to despair of ever publishing the most curious of police stories
of the past fifteen years. I had even imagined that the public
would never know the whole truth of the prodigious case known as
that of The Yellow Room, out of which grew so many mysterious,
cruel, and sensational dramas, with which my friend was so closely
mixed up, if, propos of a recent nomination of the illustrious
Stangerson to the grade of grandcross of the Legion of Honour, an
evening journal - in an article, miserable for its ignorance, or
audacious for its perfidy - had not resuscitated a terrible
adventure of which Joseph Rouletabille had told me he wished to be
for ever forgotten.

The Yellow Room! Who now remembers this affair which caused so
much ink to flow fifteen years ago? Events are so quickly
forgotten in Paris. Has not the very name of the Nayves trial and
the tragic history of the death of little Menaldo passed out of
mind? And yet the public attention was so deeply interested in the
details of the trial that the occurrence of a ministerial crisis
was completely unnoticed at the time. Now The Yellow Room trial,
which, preceded that of the Nayves by some years, made far more
noise. The entire world hung for months over this obscure problem
- the most obscure, it seems to me, that has ever challenged the
perspicacity of our police or taxed the conscience of our judges.
The solution of the problem baffled everybody who tried to find it.
It was like a dramatic rebus with which old Europe and new America
alike became fascinated. That is, in truth - I am permitted to say,
because there cannot be any author's vanity in all this, since I
do nothing more than transcribe facts on which an exceptional
documentation enables me to throw a new light - that is because,
in truth, I do not know that, in the domain of reality or
imagination, one can discover or recall to mind anything comparable,
in its mystery, with the natural mystery of The Yellow Room.

That which nobody could find out, Joseph Rouletabille, aged eighteen,
then a reporter engaged on a leading journal, succeeded in
discovering. But when, at the Assize Court, he brought in the key
to the whole case, he did not tell the whole truth. He only allowed
so much of it to appear as sufficed to ensure the acquittal of an
innocent man. The reasons which he had for his reticence no longer
exist. Better still, the time has come for my friend to speak out
fully. You are going to know all; and, without further preamble,
I am going to place before your eyes the problem of The Yellow
Room as it was placed before the eyes of the entire world on the
day following the enactment of the drama at the Chateau du Glandier.

On the 25th of October, 1892, the following note appeared in the
latest edition of the "Temps":

"A frightful crime has been committed at the Glandier, on the border
of the forest of Sainte-Genevieve, above Epinay-sur-Orge, at the
house of Professor Stangerson. On that night, while the master was
working in his laboratory, an attempt was made to assassinate
Mademoiselle Stangerson, who was sleeping in a chamber adjoining
this laboratory. The doctors do not answer for the life of Mdlle.
Stangerson."