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The train to Paris was just arriving after a fast run from Bordeaux
and the passengers were assembling by the door to disembark, but
La Belle stayed behind because she disliked being in a crowd. She
grasped her handbag tightly remembering what her grandfather had
told her about purse snatchers. To her the trip to Paris was a
blessing as she needed to get away from a family of four brothers
who made life intolerable with their bickering and quarreling.
She left the train after the crowd had dwindled and made her way
to her hotel. The reservation for her Paris holiday was made in
advance so she had no trouble getting settled. The manager took
her to her room. It overlooked the city and it was really special for
she could see the Eiffel Tower in the distance. This was her first
excursion away from home and at nineteen she was determined to
make it the time of her life. It was late afternoon so she planned
a short sightseeing trip around the city and maybe to stop for a little
supper at one of the street cafes she had heard so much about.
La Belle Anna Maria Walensky, a beautiful child of Russian
parents who came to France after the war to seek a better life
for their family. The father had succumbed to a bronchial
disease he acquired while working in a coal mine in Russia. This
left La Belle, the oldest, the responsibility of raising the brood
and caring for her grandfather while her mother sewed clothes
in a factory in an effort to make a living for the family.
Life went on in this routine until one day the grandfather died
and in his will he left La Belle a small inheritance with the
provision that she take a well deserved holiday in Paris. Her
mother had insisted that she make the trip, and assured her she
would manage the boys in her absence.
Reluctantly La Belle made her plans but felt ashamed that she'd
have to leave Mother with the rambunctious quartet. She put her
guilt aside and did her very best to enjoy this wonderful
Getting all dressed up and taking her new umbrella she was off to
tour the beautiful city of Paris, France. Not ever having traveled
to the city before, she was amazed at the magnificence of it and
took in all the spectacular sights. She stopped for a supper as
planned and although struggling with the language was able to
order her entree. She was in seventh heaven and lavished in the
luxury of the ambience.
Finishing supper she went back to the hotel and prepared to call
it a night. In bed she soon fell asleep and dreamed of romance
and being whisked off into bliss by a knight in shining armor.
Startled in the middle of the night by a loud disturbing noise
outside her window, she got up and looked out the open window.
Down below in the shadows were two figures violently fighting in
the street. The flashing of a knife got her attention and she
could see the smaller of the two stab the other. She let out a
gasp getting the man's attention. He looked up and saw her, made
a threatening gesture with the knife and ran off.
La Belle was horrified by the whole affair and jumped back in her
bed and tried to put the thought out of her mind.
Soon after that she heard the police and an ambulance down below
and went to the window. Just then, one of the police looked up
and saw her. She ducked back, but knew it was too late. Moments
later there was a knock on her door. Frightened by the intrusion
she inquired, "Who's there?"
A man with a French accent answered, "I beg your pardon,
Mademoiselle, it is the police. May I speak with you?"
She donned her bathrobe, went to the door and unlatched it,
opened it a bit and peeked out, "What do you want?"
He said, "I am Inspector François Philar of the Paris Police
Department. There has been a ruckus outside your room and I
wanted to know if you saw anything."
She said, "No," and closed the door.
He raised his voice, "Mademoiselle, if you won't talk to me here,
and now, I'll have to take you in to the station for a statement.
It will take several hours, but if you will let me in now, I will only
be a moment."
She quietly opened the door, turned on the light and let him in.
His first glimpse of her face took him by surprise. He wasn't
expecting a beautiful creature and it caught him off guard. He
made a complimentary remark in French, "Elle a le visage d'une
ange, et la figure d'une sainte!"
She said, "I'm sorry but I don't speak French very well, but I do
understand English a little if you don't mind."
He gasped, still overcome by her beguiling charm, but finally
blurted out, "Oh, I'm so sorry Miss, there has been a stabbing
down in the street. I'll try to make this brief. Did you see
anything out of your window tonight, anything at all that will
help us find the culprit?"
She said, "No, nothing at all, now will you please leave?"
The policeman's instinct told him she was not being truthful and he
pursued further, "Miss, you must have seen something. Let me tell
you, if he got sight of you, and I'm sure he is desperate, he will come
back and silence you, so if you know anything at all, please tell me."
This really startled her and she knew she was in a serious situation.
She thought for a moment, went over to the window and said,
"I heard them quarreling and went to the window to see what was
going on. The smaller of the two pulled out a knife and stabbed
the tall one and then ran away. That's all I saw, please believe me."
"Did he see you, now be sure. Did he see you at all?"
Meekly she replied, "Yes, he did and he raised the knife and made
a threatening gesture with it. I'm sure he would remember me,
oh, I'm so frightened, I just don't know what to do. What can I do?"
François took her by the shoulders, set her down and said, "Now
just be calm. I will have a guard by your door all night long,
so don't worry, no one will bother you. Now tell me, do you
remember any of his features, his height, his weight,
color of his hair or anything about him that will set him aside
from anyone else?"
She thought for a while, and in the meantime, he studied her
features not really sure she was real. She said, "Yes, he was
short, about five five, wore a tan leather jacket, and oh, yes,
he had a big mole alongside his nose," grimacing she continued,
"and he had squinty eyes."
"That's fine. Did you hear his voice? Did he say anything,
anything at all?"
"Yes, he said something, like, 'Take that, you dirty French dog.'
He didn't have a French accent though, he sounded like an
"That's really great, we will be looking for a short American with
a mole and squinty eyes. You have done very well, Miss, and
I want you to know we won't let anything happen to you." In
French he murmured the same remark he had said before.
She looked up at him quizzically but seemed to understand the
compliment and said, "Thank you."
He stared at her delightful face for a brief moment, finally coming
to his senses, "Well, oh, I didn't even ask you your name."
"Its La Belle Anna Maria Walensky. This is my first trip to
Paris and I must say, so far its been quite an experience." She
ushered him to the door and continued, "Good night, Inspector, I
hope I've been some help and you are able to get hold of this
He left, saying, "Good night, La Belle Anna Maria, you have been
a great help," he handed her his card, "If you can think of anything
else, anything at all, please call me at this number. Good night."
He left and she slowly closed the door getting the last glimpse
of him disappearing down the hall. She thought him to be quite
handsome and wondered if he was married or anything like that.
She slipped into bed and in moments from sheer exhaustion, fell
asleep, dreaming the same dream about the knight in shining
armor. When she awoke in the morning she thought her dream was
about the French detective and wondered why, but still she cherished
Her stay in Paris was supposed to be a week, but from the hectic time
she had had on the first night, she didn't know if she could last the entire
She got dressed and outside her door she saw the guard. She
thanked him for his protection, then took a street car to the
Louvre and enjoyed her stay there viewing all the great
masterpieces of the world. However, the previous night's event
kept gnawing at her insides and it put a blemish on her enthusiasm.
As she was leaving the museum she caught sight of a little man
watching her and she cautiously left the building and ran across
the street to a pharmacy where she immediately got on the phone
and called Inspector Philar. While on the phone she looked up
and there stood this little guy just outside the building. At that
moment the Inspector came on the line. She was so excited
she couldn't speak, but blurted out, "There is a man following
me!" Finally he got her quieted down and he told her that the man was
the policeman he had assigned to her for her protection. She
looked up at the man and realized it was the same one that was
stationed outside her hotel door. This seemed a comfort but she
was still a little edgy.
He asked her if she would like to meet him at a little cafe down
the street at noon for lunch. She agreed it would help to ease
her anxiety and was grateful for the invitation.
Lunch was delightful. They had a few laughs and exchanged
stories of their own experiences. She told him the story about
her family and how she was able to make this trip through her
grandfather's generosity. All the time François Philar was
getting more and more interested in this stunning little beauty
When she returned to the hotel, there was a message at the desk.
She took it up to the room and read it, "If you know what's good
for you, you will get out of town on the next train!" She sat
down on the bed, cried a little, then went down to the desk and
made a phone call to Inspector Philar. He told her not to fret
because the police guard was close by and he would protect her.
She went up to bed and fussed and fumed until she fell asleep
again from pure exhaustion. Once more, she dreamed of romance,
only this time it was definitely of the handsome detective.
First thing in the morning she heard a knocking at her door.
She bolted up in bed and cried out, "Who's there?"
"Its Inspector Philar, La Belle, I thought I'd take you out for
breakfast, if you'd like. I'll wait for you down in the lobby."
She jumped out of bed and said, "Oh, that would be lovely. I'll
only be a minute." Getting dressed and fixing her hair took
longer than a minute. She donned a cute little red dress with
sandals to match. It was the right thing, it all but knocked him
out when he saw her coming down the stairs.
He took her down to an open market place where the merchants
bring their wares right out into the streets. The sight and aroma
of all the food was breathtaking and she treasured every moment
wandering through the booths. Finding a coffee house with tables
out on the sidewalk, they had a delightful breakfast and talked about everything except the note she had received.
Finally she showed it to him. He read it over and said, "If you
don't mind, I'd like to take this to the police lab and see if
they can come up with anything. Maybe it has a secret that will
help unravel this case. The man who was stabbed is in the
hospital and as soon as he can talk, we might get a clue as to
what this crime is all about."
They walked back to the hotel and on the way he said, "I don't
want you walking anywhere without protection, is that understood?"
She saluted him and haughtily said, "Yes, Sir! Inspector Philar of
the Paris Police Department!"
He reached down and grabbed her arm and said, "I just can't have
anything happen to you." She moved closer to him and he drew her
into his embrace and at that moment she experienced the first
passion of her young and innocent life. From their expressions
it was obvious that love was beginning to flourish. He walked
her back to her hotel and up to her room to be sure the guard was
back on duty.
Back at the department he got a call from the hospital that the
injured man had awakened and it was possible he might be able to
talk. Philar rushed to the hospital and to the man, who was
barely conscious. When he was questioned, the only thing he
muttered was, "No, not the Mona Lisa!" At that moment he went
into a coma. Philar looked at him and wondered what he meant by
Returning to the department he dug out the information on the
background of the man and found he was a French patriot with an
outstanding war record and now a night shift security guard at
the Louvre. This got him to wondering what the connection was
between the stabbing and the Mona Lisa. He got on the phone and
called La Belle at her hotel. While waiting for her to be
summoned, he got an idea and just as she answered the phone he
blurted out, "Yes, of course. Its a plan to heist the Mona Lisa!"
Bewildered, she answered, "What are you talking about, what does
'heist the Mona Lisa' mean?"
"Its about your little short friend with the mole on his face and
the squinty eyes, that's who! They're planning to steal the Mona
Lisa! Listen, I'll have to relieve your security guard so I'll pick
you up in a minute and we'll take a run over to the Louvre and
maybe I can figure out how they planned on doing it."
They arrived at the Louvre, contacted the authorities and got
permission to go into the security guard's quarters. There they
found his locker and in it were several letters, a wad of money,
and a loaded gun. The letters were all written in French and
nothing made sense, except one that was mailed from the
United States. The only thing on it was a date, Sunday, August
19th. That was several days away so that gave him a little time
to think the mystery out.
This intrigue fostered excitement in La Belle and she was eager
to be in on the drama. He could see that she was hyped up on the
mystery, but with her around he found it hard to keep his mind on
They spent an hour looking the evidence over and then went back
to headquarters. There were a few catcalls and whistles from the
other officers at the unusual visitor but a disapproving glance
from the Inspector brought the display to a sudden halt. Philar
answered the ringing telephone, listened and then hung up. He
told La Belle he had an very important business to attend to, and
would she mind very much if he'd put her in a cab to be taken to
her hotel. Her security guard was back on duty. This brought a
frown to the pretty face but in spite of that it was still the most
beautiful face he had ever seen.
They went outside and at the curb he hailed a cab. The cabby was
standing outside his cab smoking a cigarette, but before he could
get in, another cab pulled out from behind the line and stopped
in front of them. François paid the cabby, gave him the
address of La Belle's hotel and waved goodbye to her as the cab
The cab went out towards her hotel, but when out of sight of
Philar, made a left turn and sped out towards the airport. La
Belle cried out, "Driver, this is not the way to my hotel!" She
looked into the rearview mirror and got a glimpse of him. It was
the man with the mole on his face and with those squinty eyes.
Half frightened to death she cried, "You are him, you're the one
who stabbed the man in the street! What do you want of me? I
haven't done anything. Please let me go." She started to cry
He turned around, yelled and slapped her across the face, "Shut
up and sit back and you won't get hurt." She fell back in the
seat. That was the first time anyone had ever struck her and she
was more surprised than hurt.
He drove like a maniac down through the Paris back streets. In
falling back La Belle felt an umbrella that someone had left on
the seat. She picked it up and although never in her life had
she ever displayed a fit of temper, (it must have been the slap
that triggered her rage), bashed him across the back of the head
which caused him to lose control of the cab. It jumped the curb
and hit a fire hydrant. The driver was knocked unconscious and
water came gushing through the open window. La Belle was shaken
up and drenched to the skin. She climbed from the back seat and
staggered out from under the geyser of water coming from the
Moments later, the police and the fire department came on the
scene. They wrapped her in a blanket and put her in the police
car. Philar was notified and was there in a couple of minutes.
He picked her up and carried her to his car. She was a total
mess with her hair streaming down her face and her wet frame
shaking with cold. She cried, "François, it was him, the man
with the mole and the squinty eyes. I'm sorry I hit him, but he
Calming her down he said, "You did great, ma chérie, and you'll
probably get a reward for catching the man who dared to plot to
steal the Mona Lisa." He again made the French remark he had
said previously, "Elle a le visage d'une ange, et la figure
She raised up and looked at him, "What does that mean?"
He said, "Translated, it means, You have the face of an angel
and the body of a saint."
She laughed, "Some angel, look at this awful hair!" He took her
back to her hotel where she showered and dressed. They had
dinner at the little cafe across the street.
The next day she received a call from the museum. They were
giving her a commendation and a reward for her assistance in the
capture of the criminal.
The remainder of her holiday was fabulous with the attention she
got from the museum people and especially the attention from
She left for home through hearty farewells from the whole police
department and the entire museum society who came to the station
to bid her goodbye.
After the train pulled out, François turned to his police chief
and said, "Sir, I'd like to take some time off, if you can spare
me. I need to take a holiday myself."
The chief said quizzically, "And where do you intend to spend
this time off?"
Philar answered, "Sir, I think I'd like to take a little trip to Bordeaux."
"But why a trip to Bordeaux?"
"Well, I thought while I was there, perhaps I'd drop in on a friend."
"And who might that friend be?" quizzed the Chief, knowing full
well who he was talking about.
Looking after the disappearing train Philar repeated the French
remark he had previously made to La Belle, "Elle a le visage
d'une ange, et la figure d'une sainte."
The Chief questioned, "She has the face of an angel and the body
of a saint?" He looked at François, "Yes, my son, I guess you'd
better take some time off."
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