Select Story

The Diamonds of the Duke de B—

From the Memoirs of M. Claude, Chief of the Detective Police Under the Second Empire

by M. Claude

In the ancient quarter of Beaujon stands a well-known house of grim and forbidding aspect, Painted in red, its massive gates open —or, rather, do not open—upon a melancholy garden.

The illustrious duke, whose noble ancestors gave a king to England, was just as eccentric as his residence.

He was a personage at once mysterious, disagreeable and sinister. This noble duke possessed in his palace an immense iron safe, holding diamonds to the value of sixteen million francs. He was as avaricious as he was wealthy, while keeping up the gallant traditions of his ancestors. If he sought pleasure, he sought it at a low price. He never opened his immense jewel safe, which was fenced in by safeguards, like a cave of Ali Baba, but for his own pleasure.

I am now mentally looking at his singular personage, whom I have met so often at the little theatres in the stage-boxes, invariably accompanied by an actress.

Seated behind his lady, he never moved, and it was impossible to discover any expression on the impassible face, masked in powder and cosmétiques.

His hair is false, his mustache is false, his whiskers are false, and he moves, I really do believe, by the aid of clockwork. His face is as immovable as that of the Emperor's—can I say more?

Detectives were paid never to let him out of their sight

The Duke de B— had in his service a young Englishwoman, both honest and pretty. He discharged her… Read More