Maigret in Montmartre
implores her to tell him everything, even if it gives him pain. He asks what she was doing the day before, what men she met. There’s a lot about one of the musicians at the Casino, whom he thinks handsome and is terribly afraid of. He wants to know about her past life, too:
    “ I have to have you “all complete ”…
    “And he ends by begging her to marry him.
    “I’ve no letters from her. It looks as though she never wrote to him—just came to see him, or telephoned. In one of his last letters, writing again about his age, he says:
    “ I ought to have understood that that beautiful body of yours has cravings that I cannot satisfy. The thought is agony to me; whenever it comes into my mind, I feel as if I should die of torment. But I would rather share you than do without you altogether. I swear I will never blame you, or make scenes. You shall be as free as you are now, and your old husband will sit quietly in his corner, waiting for you to bring him a little happiness .”
    Lapointe blew his nose.
    “They went to Capri to get married, I don’t know why. There was no marriage settlement, but they had a joint bank account. For a few months they travelled about, visiting Constantinople and Cairo; then they spent some weeks at a big hotel in the Champs-Elysées—I came across the hotel bills.”
    “When did he die?”
    “The police at Nice were able to give me all the particulars. It was barely three years after the marriage. They had been living at The Oasis for several months. They used to be seen driving in a big closed car with a chauffeur, going to the Casinos of Monte Carlo, Cannes, and Juan-les-Pins. She was magnificently dressed and covered with jewels. They caused a sensation wherever they went, for she could hardly fail to attract attention and she always had her husband in tow—a small, shrivelled man with a little white beard and a monocle. People used to call him “the rat”.
    “She gambled heavily, flirted openly, and was thought to have several love-affairs.
    “He would wait, like her shadow, till the early hours of the morning, with a resigned smile.”
    “How did he die?”
    “Nice is sending you the report by post, for there was an inquest. The Oasis stands on the Corniche, and has a terrace, fringed with palms, below which there’s a sheer drop of about three hundred feet. Most of the places round there are like that.
    “The Count’s body was found one morning, lying at the foot of the precipice.”
    “Had he been drinking?”
    “He was on a diet. His doctor said he was apt to get fits of dizziness, because of some medicines he had to take.”
    “Did he and his wife share a room?”
    “No, they had separate suites. The previous evening they’d been to the Casino, as usual, getting back about three in the morning, which was unusually early for them. The Countess was tired. She explained frankly to the police that it was the bad time of the month for her, and she used to have a lot of pain. She went to bed at once. The Count, according to the chauffeur, went first of all to the library, which had a french window opening on to the terrace. He used to do that when he couldn’t sleep—he was a bad sleeper. The theory was that he’d gone outside for air, and sat down on the stone balustrade of the terrace. It was his favourite place, because there’s a view from there of the Baie des Anges, the lights of Nice, and a long stretch of coast.
    “There were no signs of violence on the body when it was found, and no trace of poison was discovered at the autopsy.”
    “What happened to her after that?”
    “She had to cope with a young nephew who turned up from Austria to dispute the will, and it was nearly two years before she won the case. She went on living at Nice, at The Oasis. She entertained a great deal—the house was very gay, and drinking went on till all hours. Very often the guests slept there, and the fun began again as soon as they woke up.
    “The local police say she

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