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Émile Grosbois, a wealthy rag and scrap merchant of Rue du Chemin-Vert, has received a death threat, in the form of a message from words and letters cut out from a newspaper, that he will die before 6:00 on Sunday, and the Chief has asked M to go out to his villa in Coudray on Saturday to keep watch. As soon as he leaves the office his brother, Oscar Grosbois calls, and M goes to see in him the Rue du Chemin-Vert, where he tells M his brother is just paranoid, and the death threat must be a joke. M finds neither of the twin brothers attractive, but goes to Coudray, where he meets their elder sister, Françoise Paget, her 18-year-old daughter, Éliane Paget, 20-year-son, Henri Paget, and their maid, Babette. The nephew, Henri, M recognizes as a cocaine addict. The daughter Éliane, very attractive, flaunts her disregard for the family, and the sister, Françoise, is always on the verge of tears. Babette, around 40, is Oscar's lover. Émile himself, the elder of the two brothers, is a cowardly tyrant. M wishes he'd never come.
By Sunday afternoon, Émile has decreed that no one will leave the garden until after 6:00, and the waiting begins. But Henri, deprived of his drug, can take it no longer and flees, hurling insults. Éliane sleeps and sunbathes, while the others bicker. Around 5:30, Émile takes his customary capsule, and suddenly slumps in his chair. M revives him, getting him to throw up the poison. As M reports to the Chief later, he'd known from the start that Oscar had sent the note, but didn't expect him to carry it out. He merely wanted his brother out of the way. But Henri, on hearing of the threat, had put cocaine in his uncle's capsule. No charges were filed, and the Chief tells M to file his report under "investigations at the request of the familes."
Maigret of the Month: July, 2012