E. Philips Oppenheim
Part 6 out of 6
"Worth while," she answered, opening her eyes and looking at him,
"to feel the mother love? Who can help it who would not be ignoble?"
"But yours, dear," he murmured, "is all grief. Even now I am afraid."
"We can do no more than toil to the end," she said. "David, you are
sure this time?"
"I am sure," he replied. "I am going back now to the hotel where
Laverick is staying. We are going to sit together and smoke until
the morning. Nothing short of an army could storm the hotel. I
was with them all only an hour ago, - Streuss, that blackguard
Lassen, and Adolf Kahn, the police spy. They are beaten men and
they know it. They had Laverick, had him by a trick, but I made a
dramatic entrance and the game was up."
"Telephone me directly you have taken it safely to Downing Street,"
"I will," he promised.
Bellamy walked from Dover Street to the Strand. The streets were
almost brilliant with the cold, hard moonlight. The air seemed
curiously keen. Once or twice the fall of his feet upon the pavement
was so clear and distinct that he fancied he was being followed and
glanced sharply around. He reached the Milan Hotel, however,
without adventure, and looked towards the little open space in the
hall where he had expected to find Laverick. There was no one
there! He stood still for a moment, troubled with a sudden sense
of apprehension. The place was deserted except for a couple of
sleepy-looking clerks and a small army of cleaners busy with their
machines down in the restaurant, moving about like mysterious
figures in the dim light.
Bellamy turned back to the hall-porter who had admitted him.
"Do you happen to know what has become of the gentleman whom I was
with about an hour ago?" he asked, - "a tall, fair gentleman - Mr.
Laverick his name was?"
The hall-porter recognized Bellamy and touched his hat.
"Why, yes, sir!" he answered with a somewhat mysterious air. "Mr.
Laverick was sitting over there in an easy-chair until about
half-an-hour ago. Then two gentle-men arrived in a taxicab and
inquired for him. They talked for a little time, and finally Mr.
Laverick went away with them."
Bellamy was puzzled.
"Went away with them?" he repeated. "I don't understand that,
Reynolds. He was to have waited here till I returned."
The man hesitated.
"It didn't strike me, sir," he said, "that Mr. Laverick was very
wishful to go. It seemed as though he hadn't much choice about the
Bellamy looked at him keenly.
"Tell me what is in your mind?" he asked.
"Mr. Bellamy, sir," the hall-porter replied, "I knew one of those
gentlemen by sight. He was a detective from Scotland Yard, and the
one who was with him was a policeman in plain clothes."
"Good God!" Bellamy exclaimed. "You think, then, - "
"I am afraid there was no doubt about it, sir," the man answered.
"Mr. Laverick was arrested on some charge."
Into New Oxford Street, one of the ceaseless streams of polyglot
humanity, came Zoe from her cheerless day bound for the theatre.
She was a little whiter, a little more tired than usual. All day
long she had heard nothing of Laverick. All day long she had sat
in her tiny room with the memory of that horrible night before her.
She had tried in vain to sleep, - she had made no effort whatever
to eat. She knew now why Arthur Morrison had fled away. She knew
the cause of that paroxysm of fear in which he had sought her out.
The horror of the whole thing had crept into her blood like poison.
Life was once more a dreary, profitless struggle. All the wonderful
dreams, which had made existence seem almost like a fairy-tale for
this last week, had faded away. She was once more a mournful
little waif among the pitiless crowds.
She turned to the left and past the Holborn Tube. Boys were
shouting everywhere the contents of the evening papers. Nearly
every one seemed to be carrying one of the pink sheets. She herself
passed on with unseeing eyes. News was nothing to her. Governments
might rise and fall, war might come and go, - she had still life to
support, a friendless little life, too, on two pounds fifteen
shillings a week. The news they shouted fell upon deaf ears, but
one boy unfurled almost before her eyes the headlines of his sheet.
SENSATIONAL ARREST OF A WELL-KNOWN
STOCKBROKER. CHARGE OF MURDER.
She came to a sudden stop and pulled out her purse. Her fingers
trembled so that the penny fell on to the pavement. The boy picked
it up willingly enough, however, and she passed on with the paper in
her hand. There it was on the front page - staring her in the face:
Early yesterday morning Mr. Stephen Laverick, of the firm of
Laverick & Morrison, Stockbrokers, Old Broad Street, was
arrested at the Milan Hotel on the charge of being concerned
in the murder of a person unknown, in Crooked Friars' Alley,
on Monday last. The accused, who made no reply to the charge,
was removed to Bow Street Police-Station. Particulars of his
examination before the magistrates will be found on page 4.
There was a dull singing in her ears. An electric tram, coming up
from the underground passage, seemed to bring with it some sort of
thunder from an unknown world. She staggered on, unseeing, gasping
for breath. If she could find somewhere to sit down! If she could
only rest for a moment! Then a sudden wave of strength came to her,
the blood flowed once more in her veins - blood that was hot with
anger, that stained her cheeks with a spot of red. It was the man
she loved, this, being made to suffer falsely. It was the fulfilment
of their threat - a deliberate plot against him. The murderer of
Crooked Friars' Alley - she knew who that was! - she knew! Perhaps
she might help!
She had not the slightest recollection of the remainder of that
walk, but she found herself presently sitting in a quiet corner of
the theatre with the paper spread out before her. She read that
Stephen Laverick had been brought before Mr. Rawson, the magistrate
of Bow Street Police Court, on a warrant charging him with having
been concerned with the murder of a person unknown, and that he had
pleaded "Not Guilty!" Her eyes glittered as she read that the
first witness called was Mr. Arthur Morrison, late partner of the
accused. She read his deposition - that he had left Laverick at
their offices at eleven o'clock on the night in question, that they
were at that time absolutely without means, and had no prospect
of meeting their engagements on the morrow. She read the evidence
of Mr. Fenwick, bank manager, to the effect that Mr. Laverick had,
on the following morning, deposited with him the sum of twenty
thousand pounds in Bank of England notes, by means of which the
engagements of the firm were duly met, that those notes had since
been redeemed, and that he had no idea of their present whereabouts.
She read, too, the evidence of Adolf Kahn, an Austrian visiting
this country upon private business, who deposed that he was in the
vicinity just before midnight, that he saw a person, whom he
identified as the accused, walking down the street and, after
disappearing for a few minutes down the entry, return and re-enter
the offices from which he had issued. He explained his presence
there by the fact that he was waiting for a clerk employed by the
Goldfields' Corporation, Limited, whose offices were close by.
Further formal evidence was given, and a remand asked for. The
accused's solicitor was on the point of addressing the court when
Mr. Rawson was unfortunately taken ill. After waiting for some
time, the case was adjourned until the next day, and the accused
man was removed in custody.
Zoe laid down the paper and rose to her feet. She made her way to
where the stage-manager was superintending the erection of some new
"Mr. Heepman," she exclaimed, "I cannot stay to rehearsal! I have
to go out."
He turned heavily round and looked at her.
"Rehearsal postponed," he declared solemnly. "Shall you be back
for the evening performance, or shall we close the theatre?"
His clumsy irony missed its mark. Her thoughts were too intensely
focussed upon one thing.
"I am sorry," she replied, turning away. "I will come back as soon
as I can."
He called out after her and she paused.
"Look here," he said, "you were absent from the performance the
other evening, and now you are skipping rehearsal without even
waiting for permission. It can't be done, young lady. You must
do your playing around some other time. If you're not here when
you're called, you needn't trouble to turn up again. Do you
Her lips quivered and the sense of impending disaster which seemed
to be brooding over her life became almost overwhelming.
"I'll come back as soon as I can," she promised, with a little break
in her voice, - "as soon as ever I can, Mr. Heepman."
She hurried out of the theatre and took her place once more among
the hurrying throng of pedestrians. Several people turned round to
look at her. Her white face, tight-drawn mouth, and eyes almost
unnaturally large, seemed to have become the abiding-place for
tragedy. She herself saw no one. She would have taken a cab, but
a glimpse at the contents of her purse dissuaded her. She walked
steadily on to Jermyn Street, walked up the stairs to the third
floor, and knocked at her brother's door. No one answered her at
first. She turned the handle and entered to find the room empty.
There were sounds, however, in the further apartment, and she
called out to him.
"Arthur," she cried, "are you there?"
"Who is it?" he demanded.
"It is I - Zoe!" she exclaimed.
"What do you want?"
"I want to speak to you, Arthur. I must speak to you. Please
come as quickly as you can."
He growled something and in a few moments he appeared. He was
wearing the morning clothes in which he had attended court earlier
in the day, but the change in him was perhaps all the more marked
by reason of this resumption of his old attire. His cheeks were
hollow, his eyes scarcely for an instant seemed to lose that
feverish gleam of terror with which he had returned from Liverpool.
He knew very well what she had come about, and he began nervously
to try and bully her.
"I wish you wouldn't come to these rooms, Zoe," he said. "I've
told you before they're bachelors' apartments, and they don't like
women about the place. What is it? What do you want?"
"I was brought here last time without any particular desire on my
part," she answered, looking him in the face. "I've come now to
ask you what accursed plot this is against Stephen Laverick? What
were you doing in the court this morning, lying? What is the
meaning of it, Arthur?"
"If you've come to talk rubbish like that," he declared roughly,
"you'd better be off."
"No, it is not rubbish!" she went on fearlessly. "I think I can
understand what it is that has happened. They have terrified you
and bribed you until you are willing to do any despicable thing
- even this. Your father was good to my mother, Arthur, and I
have tried to feel towards you as though you were indeed a relation.
But nothing of that counts. I want you to realize that I know the
truth, and that I will not see an innocent man convicted while the
guilty go free."
He moved a step towards her. They were on opposite sides of the
small round table which stood in the centre of the apartment.
"What do you mean?" he demanded hoarsely.
"Isn't it plain enough?" she exclaimed. "You came to my rooms a
week or so ago, a terrified, broken-down man. If ever there was
guilt in a man's face, it was in yours. You sent for Laverick. He
pitied you and helped you away. At Liverpool they would not let
you embark - these men. They have brought you back here. You are
their tool. But you know very well, Arthur, that it was not Stephen
Laverick who killed the man in Crooked Friars' Alley! You know very
well that it was not Stephen Laverick!"
"Why the devil should I know anything about it?" he asked fiercely.
A note of passion suddenly crept into her voice. Her little white
hand, with its accusing forefinger, shot out towards him.
"Because it was you, Arthur Morrison, who committed that crime," she
cried, "and sooner than another man should suffer for it, I shall
go to court myself and tell the truth."
He was, for the moment, absolutely speechless, pale as death, with
nervously twitching lips and fingers. But there was murder in his eyes.
"What do you know about this?" he muttered.
"Never mind," she answered. "I know and I guess quite enough to
convince me - and I think anybody else - that you are the guilty man.
I would have helped you and shielded you, whatever it cost me, but
I will not do so at Stephen Laverick's expense."
"What is Laverick to you?" he growled.
"He is nothing to me," she replied, "but the best of friends. Even
were he less than that, do you suppose that I would let an innocent
He moistened his dry lips rapidly.
"You are talking nonsense, Zoe," he said, - "nonsense! Even if
there has been some little mistake, what could I do now? I have
given my evidence. So far as I am concerned, the case is finished.
I shall not be called again until the trial."
"Then you had better go to the magistrates tomorrow morning and
take back your evidence," she declared boldly, "for if you do not,
I shall be there and I shall tell the truth."
"Zoe," he gasped, "don't try me too high. This thing has upset me.
I'm ill. Can't you see it, Zoe? Look at me. I haven't slept for
weeks. Night and day I've had the fear - the fear always with me.
You don't know what it is - you can't imagine. It's like a terrible
ghost, keeping pace with you wherever you go, laying his icy finger
upon you whenever you would rest, mocking at you when you try to
drown thought even for a moment. Don't you try me too far, Zoe.
I'm not responsible. Laverick isn't the man you think him to be.
He isn't the man I believed. He did have that money - he did,
"That," she said, "is to be explained. But he is not a murderer."
"Listen to me, Zoe," Morrison continued, leaning across the table.
"Come and stay with me for a time and we will go away for a week
- somewhere to the seaside. e will talk about this and think it
over. I want to get away from London. We will go to Brighton, if
you like. must do something for you, Zoe. I'm afraid I've
neglected you a good deal. Perhaps I could get you a better part
at one of the theatres. I must make you an allowance. You ought
to be wearing better clothes."
She drew a little away.
"I want nothing from you, Arthur," she said, "except this - that
you speak the truth."
He wiped his forehead and struck the table before her.
"But, good God, Zoe!" he exclaimed, "do you know what it is that
you are asking me? Do you want me to go into court and say - 'That
isn't the man... It is I who am the murderer'? Do you want me to
feel their hands upon my shoulder, to be put there in the dock and
have all the people staring at me curiously because they know that
before very long I am to stand upon the scaffold and have that rope
around my neck and - "
He broke off with a low cry, wringing his hands like a child in a
fit of impotent terror. But the girl in front of him never flinched.
"Arthur," she said, "crime is a terrible thing, but nothing in the
world can alter its punishment. If it is frightful for you to
think of this, what must it be for him? And you are guilty and he
"I was mad!" Morrison went on, now almost beside himself. "Zoe, I
was mad! I called there to have a drink. We were broke, - the firm
was broke. I'd a hundred or so in my pocket and I was going to bolt
the next day. And there, within a few yards of me, was that man,
with such a roll of notes as I had never seen in my life. Five
hundred pounds, every one of them, and a wad as thick as my fists.
Zoe, they fascinated me. I had two drinks quickly and I followed
him out. Somehow or other, I found that I'd caught up a knife that
was on the counter. I never meant to hurt him seriously, but I
wanted some of those notes! I was leaving the next day for Africa
and I hadn't enough money to make a fair start. I wanted it - my
God, how I wanted money!"
"It couldn't have been worth - that!" she cried, looking at him
"I was mad," he continued. "I saw the notes and they went to my
head. Men do wild things sometimes when they are drunk, or for
love. I don't drink much, and I'm not over fond of women, but, my
God, money is like the blood of my body to me! I saw it, and I
wanted it and I wanted it, and I went mad! Zoe, you won't give me
away? Say you won't!"
"But what am I to do?" she protested. "He must not suffer."
"He'll get off," Morrison assured her thickly. "I tell you he'll
get off. He's only to part with the document, which never belonged
to him, and the charge will be withdrawn. They know who the
murdered man was. They know where the money came from which he was
carrying. I tell you he can save himself. You wouldn't dream of
sending me to the gallows, Zoe!"
"Stephen Laverick will never give up that document to those people,"
she declared. "I am sure of that."
"It's his own lookout," Morrison muttered. "He has the chance,
She turned toward the door.
"I must go away," she said. "I must go away and think. It is all
He came round the table swiftly and caught at her wrists.
"Listen," he said, "I can't let you go like this. You must tell me
that you are not going to give me up. Do you hear?"
"I can make no promises, Arthur," she answered sadly, "only this -
I shall not let Stephen Laverick suffer in your stead."
He opened his hand and she shrank back, terrified, when she saw what
it was that he was holding. Then he struck her down and without a
backward glance fled out of the place.
Late that afternoon the hall-porter at the Milan Hotel, the
commissionaire, and the chief maitre d'hotel from the Caf‚, who
happened to be in the hall, together with several others around the
place who knew Stephen Laverick by sight, were treated to an
unexpected surprise. A large closed motor-car drove up to the
front entrance and several men descended, among whom was Laverick
himself. He nodded to the hall-porter, whose salute was purely
mechanical, and making his way without hesitation to the interior
of the hotel, presented his receipt at the cashier's desk and asked
for his packet. The clerk looked up at him in amazement. He did
not, for the moment, notice that the two men standing immediately
behind bore the stamp of plain-clothes policemen. He had only a
few minutes ago finished reading the report of Laverick's
examination before the magistrates and his remand until the morrow,
upon the charge of murder. His knowledge of English law was by no
means perfect, but he was at least aware that Laverick's appearance
outside the purlieus of the prison was an unusual happening.
"Your packet, sir!" he repeated, in amazement. "Why, this is Mr.
Laverick himself, is it not?"
"Certainly," was the quiet reply. "I am Stephen Laverick."
The clerk called the head cashier, who also stared at Laverick as
though he were a ghost. They whispered together in the background
for a moment, and their faces were a study in perplexity. Of
Laverick's identity, however, there was no manner of doubt. Besides,
the presence of what was obviously a very ample escort somewhat
reassured them. The cashier himself came forward.
"We shall be exceedingly glad, Mr. Laverick," he said dryly, "to
get rid of your packet. Your instructions were that we should
disregard all orders to hand it over to any person whatsoever, and
I may say that they have been strictly adhered to. We have,
however, had two applications in your name this morning."
"They were both forgeries," Laverick declared.
The cashier hesitated. Then he leaned across the broad mahogany
counter towards Laverick. One of the men who appeared to form part
of the escort detached himself from them and approached a few
"This gentleman is your friend, sir?" the cashier asked, glancing
"He is my solicitor," Laverick answered, "and is entirely in my
confidence. If you have anything to tell me, I should like Mr.
Bellamy also to hear."
Bellamy, who was standing a little in the background, took his place
by Laverick's side. The cashier, who knew him by sight, bowed.
"Beside these two forged orders, sir," he said, turning again to
Laverick, "we have had a man who took a room in the hotel leave a
small black bag here, which he insisted upon having deposited in
our document safe. My assistant had accepted it and was actually
locking it up when he noticed a faint sound inside which he could
not understand. The bag was opened and found to contain an
infernal machine which would have exploded in a quarter of an hour."
Bellamy drew his breath sharply between his teeth.
"We should have thought of that!" he exclaimed softly. "That's
"I seem to have given you a great deal of trouble," Laverick
remarked quietly. "I gather, however, from what you say, that my
packet is still in your possession?"
"It is, sir," the man assented. "We have two detectives from
Scotland Yard here at the present moment, though, and we had
almost decided to place it in their charge for greater security."
"It will be well taken care of from now, I promise you," Laverick
The cashier and his clerk led the way into the inner office. At
their invitation Laverick and his solicitor followed, and a few
yards behind came the two plain-clothes policemen, Bellamy, and
the superintendent. The safe was opened and the packet placed in
Laverick's hands. He passed it on at once to Bellamy, and
immediately afterwards the doorway behind was thronged with men,
apparently ordinary loiterers around the hotel. They made a slow
and exceedingly cautious exit. Once outside, Bellamy turned to
Laverick with outstretched hand.
"Au revoir and good luck, old chap!" he said heartily. "I think
you'll find things go your way all right to-morrow morning."
He departed, forming one of a somewhat singular cavalcade - two
of his friends on either side, two in front, and two behind. It
had almost the appearance of a procession. The whole party stepped
into a closed motor-car. Three or four men were lounging on the
pavement and there was some excited whispering, but no one actually
interfered. As soon as they had left the courtyard, Laverick and
his solicitor, with his own guard, re-entered the motor-car in
which they had arrived, and drove back to Bow Street. Very few
words were exchanged during the short journey. His solicitor,
however, bade him good-night cheerfully, and Laverick's bearing
was by no means the bearing of a man in despair.
In Downing Street, within the next half-an-hour, a somewhat
remarkable little gathering took place. The two men chiefly
responsible for the destinies of the nation - the Prime Minister
and the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs - sat side by side
before a small table. Facing them was Bellamy, and spread out in
front were those few pages of foolscap, released from their
envelope a few minutes ago for the first time since the hand of
the great Chancellor himself had pressed down the seal. The
Foreign Minister had just finished a translation for the benefit
of his colleague, and the two men were silent, as men are in the
presence of big events.
"Bellamy," the Prime Minister said slowly, "you are willing to
stake, I presume, your reputation upon the authenticity of this
"My honor and my life, if you will," Bellamy answered earnestly.
"That is no copy which you have there. On the contrary, the
handwriting is the handwriting of the Chancellor himself."
The Prime Minister turned silently towards his colleague. The
latter, whose eyes still seemed glued to those fateful words,
"All I can say is this," he remarked impressively, "that never in
my time have I seen written words possessed of so much significance.
One moment, if you please."
He touched the bell, and his private secretary entered at once from
an adjoining room.
"Anthony," he said, "telephone to the Great Western Railway Company
at Paddington. Ask for the station master in my name, and see that
a special train is held ready to depart for Windsor in half-an-hour.
Tell the station-master that all ordinary traffic must be held up,
but that the destination of the special is not to be divulged."
The young man bowed and withdrew.
"The more I consider this matter," the Foreign Minister went on,
"the more miraculous does the appearance of this document seem.
We know now why the Czar is struggling so frantically to curtail
his visit - why he came, as it were, under protest, and seeks
everywhere for an opportunity to leave before the appointed time.
His health is all right. He has had a hint from Vienna that there
has been a leakage. His special mission only reached Paris this
morning. The President is in the country and their audience is not
fixed until to-morrow. Rawson will go over with a copy of these
papers and a dispatch from His Majesty by the nine o'clock train.
It is not often that we have had the chance of such a 'coup' as
He drew his chief a few steps away. They whispered together for
several moments. When they returned, the Foreign Minister rang
the bell again for his secretary.
"Anthony," he said, "Sir James and I will be leaving in a few
minutes for Windsor. Go round yourself to General Hamilton,
telephone to Aldershot for Lord Neville, and call round at the
Admiralty Board for Sir John Harrison. Tell them all to be here
at ten o'clock tonight. If I am not back, they must wait. If
either of them have royal commands, you need only repeat the
word 'Finisterre.' They will understand."
The young man once more withdrew. The Prime Minister turned
back to the papers.
"It will be worth a great deal," he remarked, with a grim smile,
"to see His Majesty's face when he reads this."
"It would be worth a great deal more," his fellow statesman
answered dryly, "to be with his August cousin at the interview
which will follow. A month ago, the thought that war might come
under our administration was a continual terror to me. To-day
things are entirely different. To-day it really seems that if
war does come, it may be the most glorious happening for England
of this century. You saw the last report from Kiel?"
Sir James nodded.
"There isn't a battleship or a cruiser worth a snap of the fingers
south of the German Ocean," his colleague continued earnestly.
"They are cooped up - safe enough, they think - under the shelter
of their fortifications. Hamilton has another idea. Between you
and me, Sir James, so have I. I tell you," he went on, in a
deeper and more passionate tone, "it's like the passing of a
terrible nightmare - this. We have had ten years of panic, of
nervous fears of a German invasion, and no one knows more than you
and I, Sir James, how much cause we have had for those fears. It
will seem strange if, after all, history has to write that chapter
The secretary re-entered and announced the result of his telephone
interview with the superintendent at Paddington. The two great
men rose. The Prime Minister held out his hand to Bellamy.
"Bellamy," he declared, "you've done us one more important service.
There may be work for you within the next few weeks, but you've
earned a rest for a day or two, at any rate. There is nothing more
we can do?"
"Nothing except a letter to the Home Secretary, Sir James," Bellamy
answered. "Remember, sir, that although I have worked hard, the
man to whom we really owe those papers is Stephen Laverick."
The Prime Minister frowned thoughtfully.
"It's a difficult situation, Bellamy," he said. "You are asking a
great deal when you suggest that we should interfere in the
slightest manner with the course of justice. You are absolutely
convinced, I suppose, that this man Laverick had nothing to do
with the murder?"
"Absolutely and entirely, sir," Bellamy replied.
"The murdered man has never been identified by the police," Sir
James remarked. "Who was he?"
"His name was Rudolph Von Behrling," Bellamy announced, "and he was
actually the Chancellor's nephew, also his private secretary. I
have told you the history, sir, of those papers. It was Von
Behrling who, without a doubt, murdered the American journalist
and secured them. It was he who insisted upon coming to London
instead of returning with them to Vienna, which would have been the
most obvious course for him to have adopted. He was a pauper, and
desperately in love with a certain lady who has helped me throughout
this matter. He agreed to part with the papers for twenty thousand
pounds, and the lady incidentally promised to elope with him the
same night. I met him by appointment at that little restaurant in
the city, paid him the twenty thousand pounds, and received the
false packet which you remember I brought to you, sir. As a matter
of fact, Von Behrling, either by accident or design, and no man now
will ever know which, left me with those papers which I was supposed
to have bought in his possession, and also the money. Within five
minutes he was murdered. Doubtless we shall know sometime by whom,
but it was not by Stephen Laverick. Laverick's share in the whole
thing was nothing but this - that he found the pocket-book, and that
he made use of the notes in his business for twenty-four hours to
save himself from ruin. That was unjustifiable, of course. He has
made atonement. The notes at this minute are in a safe deposit
vault and will be returned intact to the fund from which they came.
I want, also, to impress upon you, Sir James, the fact that Baron
de Streuss offered one hundred thousand pounds for that letter."
Sir James nodded thoughtfully. He stooped down and scrawled a few
lines on half a sheet of note-paper.
"You must take this to Lord Estcourt at once," he said, "and tell
him the whole affair, omitting all specific information as to the
nature of the papers. The thing must be arranged, of course."
Half-a-dozen reporters, who had somehow got hold of the fact that
the Prime Minister and his colleague from the Foreign Office were
going down to Windsor on a special mission, followed them, but even
they remained altogether in the dark as to the events which were
really transpiring. They knew nothing of the interview between the
Czar and his August host - an interview which in itself was a
chapter in the history of these times. They knew nothing of the
reason of their royal visitor's decision to prolong his visit
instead of shortening it, or of his autograph letter to the
President of the French Republic, which reached Paris even before
the special mission from St. Petersburg had presented themselves.
The one thing which they did know, and that alone was significant
enough, was that the Czar's Foreign Minister was cabled for that
night to come to his master by special train from St. Petersburg.
At the Austrian and German Embassies, forewarned by a report from
Baron de Streuss, something like consternation reigned. The
Russian Ambassador, heckled to death, took refuge at Windsor under
pretence of a command from his royal master. The happiest man in
London was Prince Rosmaran.
At mid-day on the following morning Laverick stepped down from the
dock at Bow Street and, as the evening papers put it, "in company
with his friends left the court." The proceedings altogether took
scarcely more than half-an-hour. Laverick's solicitor first put
Shepherd in the box, who gave his account of Morrison's visit to
the restaurant, spoke of his hurried exit, and identified the knife
which he had seen him snatch up. Cross-examined as to why he had
kept silent, he explained that Mr. Morrison had been a good customer
and he saw no reason why he should give unsolicited evidence which
would cost a man his life. Directly, however, another man had been
accused, the matter appeared to him to be altogether different. He
had come forward the moment he had heard of Laverick's ARREST, to
offer his evidence.
While the opinion of the court was still undecided, Laverick's
solicitor called Miss Zoe Leneveu. A little murmur of interest ran
though the court. Laverick himself started. Zoe stepped into the
witness-box, looking exceedingly pale, and with a bandage over the
upper part of her head. She admitted that she was the half-sister
of Arthur Morrison, although there was no blood relationship. She
described his sudden visit to her rooms on the night of the murder,
and his state of great alarm. She declared that he had confessed
to her on the previous afternoon that he had been guilty of the
murder in question.
Her place in the witness-box was taken by the Honorable David
Bellamy. He declared that the prisoner was an old friend of his,
and that the twenty thousand pounds of which he had been recently
possessed, had come from him for investment in Laverick's business.
The circumstances, he admitted, were somewhat peculiar, and until
negotiations had been concluded Mr. Laverick had doubtless felt
uncertain how to make use of the money. But he assured the court
that there was no person who had any claim to the sum of money in
question save himself, and that he was perfectly aware of the use
to which Laverick had put it.
Laverick was discharged within a very few minutes, and a warrant
was issued for the apprehension of Morrison. Laverick found
Bellamy waiting for him, and was hurried into his motor.
"Well, you see," the latter exclaimed, "we kept our word! That
dear plucky little friend of yours turned the scale, but in any
case I think that there would not have been much trouble about the
matter. The magistrate had received a communication direct from
the Home Secretary concerning your case."
"I am very grateful indeed," Laverick declared. "I tell you I
think I am very lucky. I wish I knew what had become of Miss
Leneveu. The usher told me she left the court before we came out."
"I asked her to go straight back to her rooms," Bellamy said. "You
must excuse me for interfering, Laverick, but I found her almost in
a state of collapse last night in Jermyn Street. I was having
Morrison watched, and my man reported to me that he had left his
rooms in a state of great excitement, and that a young lady was
there who appeared to be seriously injured."
"D-d scamp!" Laverick muttered.
"I did everything I could," Bellamy continued. "I fetched her at
once and sent her back to her house with a hospital nurse and some
one to look after her. The wound wasn't serious, but the fellow
must have been a brute indeed to have lifted his hand against such
a child. I wonder whether he'll get away."
"I should doubt it," Laverick remarked. "He hasn't the nerve.
He'll probably get drunk and blow his brains out. He's a
broken-spirited cur, after all."
"You'll have some lunch?" Bellamy asked.
Laverick shook his head.
"If you don't mind, I'd like to go on and see Miss Leneveu."
"Put me down at the club, then, and take my car on, if you will."
Laverick walked up and down the pavement outside Zoe's little
house for nearly half-an-hour. He had found the door closed and
locked, and a neighbor had informed him that Miss Leneveu had
gone out in a cab with the nurse, some time ago, and had not
returned. Laverick sent Bellamy's car back and waited. Presently
a four-wheel cab came round the corner and stopped in front of
her house. Laverick opened the door and helped Zoe out. She was
as white as death, and the nurse who was with her was looking
"You are safe, then?" she murmured, holding out her hands.
"Quite," he answered. "You dear little girl!"
Zoe had fainted, however, and Laverick hurried out for the doctor.
Curiously enough, it was the same man who only a week or so ago
had come to see Arthur Morrison.
"She has had a bad scalp wound," he declared, "and her nervous
system is very much run down. There is nothing serious. She
seems to have just escaped concussion. The nurse had better stay
with her for another day, at any rate."
"You are sure that it isn't serious?" Laverick asked eagerly.
"Not in the least," the doctor answered dryly. "I see worse
wounds every day of my life. I'll come again to-morrow, if you like,
but it really isn't necessary with the nurse on the spot."
His natural pessimism was for a moment lightened by the fee which
Laverick pressed upon him, and he departed with a few more
encouraging words. Laverick stayed and talked for a short time
with the nurse.
"She has gone off to sleep now, sir," the latter announced. "There
isn't anything to worry about. She seems as though she had been
having a hard time, though. There was scarcely a thing in the house
but half a packet of tea - and these."
She held up a packet of pawn tickets.
"I found these in a drawer when I came," she said. "I had to look
round, because there was no money and nothing whatever in the house."
Laverick was suddenly conscious of an absurd mistiness before his
"Poor little woman!" he murmured. "I think she'd sooner have starved
than ask for help."
The nurse smiled.
"I thought at first that she was rather a vain young lady," she
remarked. "An empty larder and a pile of pawn tickets, and a new
hat with a receipted bill for thirty shillings," she added, pointing
to the sofa.
Laverick placed some notes in her hands.
"Please keep these," he begged, "and see that she has everything she
wants. I shall be here again later in the day. There is not the
slightest need for all this. She will be quite well off for the rest
of her life. Will you try and engage some one for a day or two to
come in until she is able to be moved?"
"I'll look after her," the nurse promised.
Laverick went reluctantly away. The events of the last few days were
becoming more and more like a dream to him. He went to his club
almost from habit. Presently the excitement which all London seemed
to be sharing drove his own personal feelings a little into the
background. The air was full of rumors. The Prime Minister and the
Foreign Secretary were spoken of as one speaks of heroes. Nothing
was definitely known, but there was a splendid feeling of confidence
that for once in her history England was preparing to justify her
existence as a great Power.
THE PLOT THAT FAILED
The progress of the Czar from Buckingham Palace to the Mansion
House, where he had, after all, consented to lunch with the Lord
Mayor, witnessed a popular outburst of enthusiasm absolutely
inexplicable to the general public. It was known that affairs in
Central Europe were in a dangerously precarious state, and it was
felt that the Czar's visit here, and the urgent summons which had
brought from St. Petersburg his Foreign Minister, were indications
that the long wished-for entente between Russia and this country
was now actually at hand. There was in the Press a curious
reticence with regard to the development of the political situation.
One felt everywhere that it was the calm before the storm - that at
any moment the great black headlines might tell of some startling
stroke of diplomacy, some dangerous peril averted or defied. The
circumstances themselves of the Czar's visit had been a little
peculiar. On his arrival it was announced that, for reasons of
health, the original period of his stay, namely a week, was to be
cut down to two days. No sooner had he arrived at Windsor, however,
than a change was announced. The Czar had so far recovered as to
be able even to extend the period at first fixed for his visit.
Simultaneously with this, the German and Austrian Press were full
of bitter and barely veiled articles, whose meaning was unmistakable.
The Czar had thrown in his lot at first with Austria and Germany.
That he was going deliberately to break away from that arrangement
there seemed now scarcely any manner of doubt.
Bellamy and Louise, from a window in Fleet Street, watched him go
by. Prince Rosmaran had been specially bidden to the luncheon, but
he, too, had been with them earlier in the morning. Afterwards
they turned their backs upon the city, and as soon as the crowd had
thinned made their way to one of the west-end restaurants.
"It seems too good to be true," declared Louise. Bellamy nodded.
"Nevertheless I am convinced that it is true. The humor of the
whole thing is that it was our friends in Germany themselves who
pressed the Czar not to altogether cancel his visit for fear of
exciting suspicion. That, of course, was when there seemed to be
no question of the news of the Vienna compact leaking out. They
would never have dared to expose a man to such a trial as the
Czar must have faced when the resume of the Vienna proceedings, in
the Chancellor's own handwriting, was read to him at Windsor."
"You saw the telegram from Paris?" Louise interposed. "The
special mission from St. Petersburg has been recalled."
"It all goes to prove what I say," he went on. "Any morning you
may expect to hear that Austria and Germany have received an
"I wonder," she remarked, "what became of Streuss."
"He is hiding somewhere in London, without a doubt," Bellamy
answered. "There's always plenty of work for spies."
"Don't use that word," she begged.
He made a little grimace.
"You are thinking of my own connection with the profession, are you
not?" he asked. "Well, that counts for nothing now. I hope I may
still serve my country for many years, but it must be in a different
"What do you mean?" she demanded.
"I heard from my uncle's solicitors this morning," Bellamy continued,
"that he is very feeble and cannot live more than a few months.
When he dies, of course, I must take my place in the House of Lords.
It is his wish that I should not leave England again now, so I
suppose there is nothing left for me but to give it up. I have done
my share of traveling and work, after all," he concluded,
"Your share, indeed," she murmured. "Remember that but for that
document which was read to the Czar at Windsor, Servia must have
gone down, and England would have had to take a place among the
second-class Powers. There may be war now, it is true, but it
will be a glorious war."
"Louise, very soon we shall know. Until then I will say nothing.
But I do not want you altogether to forget that there has been
something in my life dearer to me even than my career for these
last few years."
Her blue eyes were suddenly soft. She looked across towards him
"Dear," she whispered, "things will be altered with you now. I am
not fit to be the wife of an English peer - I am not noble."
"I am afraid," he assured her, "that I am democrat enough to think
you one of the noblest women on earth. Why should I not? Your
life itself has been a study in devotion. The modern virtues seem
almost to ignore patriotism, yet the love of one's country is a
splendid thing. But don't you think, Louise, that we have done
our work that it is time to think of ourselves?"
She gave him her hand.
"Let us see," she said. "Let us wait for a little time and see what
That night another proof of the popular feeling, absolutely
spontaneous, broke out in one of the least expected places. Louise
was encored for her wonderful solo in a modern opera of bellicose
trend, and instead of repeating it she came alone on the stage after
a few minutes' absence, dressed in Servian national dress. For a
short time the costume was not recognized. Then the music - the
national hymn of Servia, and the recollection of her parentage,
brought the thing home to the audience. They did not even wait for
her to finish. In the middle of her song the applause broke like a
crash of thunder. From the packed gallery to the stalls they cheered
her wildly, madly. A dozen times she came before the curtain. It
seemed impossible that they would ever let her go. Directly she
turned to leave the stage, the uproar broke out again. The manager
at last insisted upon it that she should speak a few words. She
stood in the centre of the stage amid a silence as complete as the
previous applause had been unanimous. Her voice reached easily to
every place in the House.
"I thank you all very much," she said. "I am very happy indeed to
be in London, because it is the capital city of the most generous
country in the world - the country that is always ready to protect
and help her weaker neighbors. I am a Servian, and I love my
country, and therefore," she added, with a little break in her
voice, - "therefore I love you all."
It was nearly midnight before the audience was got rid of, and the
streets of London had not been so impassable for years. Crowds
made their way to the front of Buckingham Palace and on to the War
Office, where men were working late. Everything seemed to denote
that the spirit of the country was roused: The papers next morning
made immense capital of the incident, and for the following
twenty-four hours suspense throughout the country was almost at
fever height. It was known that the Cabinet Council had been
sitting for six hours. It was known, too, that without the least
commotion, with scarcely any movements of ships that could be
called directly threatening, the greatest naval force which the
world had ever known was assembling off Dover. The stock markets
were wildly excited. Laverick, back again in his office, found
that his return to his accustomed haunts occasioned scarcely any
comment. More startling events were shaping themselves. His own
remarkable adventure remained, curiously enough, almost undiscussed.
He left the office shortly before his usual time, notwithstanding
the rush of business, and drove at once to the little house in
Theobald Square. Zoe was lying on the sofa, still white, but
eager to declare that the pain had gone and that she was no longer
"It is too absurd," she declared, smiling, "my having this nurse
here. Really, there is nothing whatever the matter with me. I
should have gone to the theatre, but you see it is no use."
She passed him the letter which she had been reading, and which
contained her somewhat curt dismissal. He laughed as he tore it
"Are you so sorry, Zoe? Is the stage so wonderful a place that
you could not bear to think of leaving it?"
She shook her head.
"It is not that," she whispered. "You know that it is not that."
He smiled as he took her confidently into his arms.
"There is a much more arduous life in front of you, dear," he said.
"You have to come and look after me for the rest of your days. A
bachelor who marries as late in life as I do, you know, is a trying
sort of person."
She shrank away a little.
"You don't mean it," she murmured.
"You know very well that I mean it," he answered, kissing her. "I
think you knew from the very first that sooner or later you were
doomed to become my wife."
She sighed faintly and half-closed her eyes. For the moment she
had forgotten everything. She was absolutely and completely happy.
Later on he made her dress and come out to dinner, and afterwards,
as they sat talking, he laid an evening paper before her.
"Zoe," he declared, "the best thing that could has happened. You
will not be foolish, dear, about it, I know. Remember the
alternative - and read that."
She glanced at the few lines which announced the finding of Arthur
Morrison in a house in Bloomsbury Square. The police had apparently
tracked him down, and he had shot himself at the final moment. The
details of his last few hours were indescribable. Zoe shuddered,
and her eyes filled with tears. She smiled bravely in his face,
"It is terrible," she whispered simply, "but, after all, he was no
relation of mine, and he tried to do you a frightful injury. When
I think of that, I find it hard even to be sorry.
There was indeed almost a pitiless look in her face as she folded
up the paper, as though she felt something of that common instinct
of her sex which transforms a gentle woman so quickly into a hard,
merciless creature when the being whom she loves is threatened.
"Let us go out into the streets," he said, "and hear what all this
excitement is about."
They bought a late edition, and there it was at last in black and
white. An ultimatum had been presented at Berlin and Vienna.
Certain treaty rights which had been broken with regard to Austria's
action in the East were insisted upon by Great Britain. It was
demanded that Austria should cease the mobilization of her troops
upon the Servian frontier, and renounce all rights to a protectorate
over that country, whose independence Great Britain felt called upon,
from that time forward, to guarantee. It was further announced that
England, France, and Russia were acting in this matter in complete
concert, and that the neutrality of Italy was assured. Further, it
was known that the great English fleet had left for the North Sea
with sealed orders.
Laverick took Zoe home early and called later at Bellamy's rooms.
Bellamy greeted him heartily. He was on the point of going out,
and the two men drove off together in the latter's car.
"See, my dear friend," Bellamy exclaimed, "what great things come
from small means! The document which you preserved for us, and
for which we had to fight so hard, has done all this."
"It is marvelous!" Laverick murmured.
"It is very simple," Bellamy declared. "That meeting in Vienna was
meant to force our hands. It is all a question of the balance of
strength. Germany and Austria together, with Russia friendly, -
even with Russia neutral, - could have defied Europe. Germany could
have spread out her army westwards while Austria seized upon her
prey. It was a splendid plot, and it was going very well until the
Czar himself was suddenly confronted by our King and his Ministers
with a revelation of the whole affair. At Windsor the thing seemed
different to him. The French Government behaved splendidly, and the
Czar behaved like a man. Germany and Austria are left plante la.
If they fight, well, it will be no one-sided affair. They have no
fleet, or rather they will have none in a fortnight's time. They
have no means of landing an army here. Austria, perhaps, can hold
Russia, but with a French army in better shape than it has been for
years, and the English landing as many men as they care to do, with
ease, anywhere on the north coast of Germany, the entire scheme
proved abortive. Come into the club and have a drink, Laverick.
To-day great things have happened to me."
"And to me," Laverick interposed.
"You can guess my news, perhaps," Bellamy said, as they seated
themselves in easy-chairs. "Mademoiselle Idiale has promised to
be my wife."
Laverick held out his hand.
"I congratulate you heartily!" he exclaimed. "I have been an
engaged man myself for something like half-an-hour."
A FAREWELL APPEARANCE
"One thing, at least, these recent adventures should teach whoever
may be responsible for the government of this country," Bellamy
remarked to his wife, as he laid down the morning paper. "For the
first time in many years we have taken the aggressive against Powers
of equal standing. We were always rather good at bullying smaller
countries, but the bare idea of an ultimatum to Germany would have
made our late Premier go lightheaded."
"And yet it succeeded," Louise reminded him.
"Absolutely," he affirmed. "To-day's news makes peace a certainty.
If your country knew everything, Louise, they'd give us a royal
welcome next month."
"You really mean that we are to go there, then?" she asked.
"It isn't exactly one of my privileges," he declared, "to fix upon
the spot where we shall take our belated honeymoon, but I haven't
been in Belgrade for years, and I know you'd like to see your
"It will be more happiness than I ever dreamed of," she murmured.
"Do you think we shall be safe in passing through Vienna?"
"Remember," he said, "that I am no longer David Bellamy, with a
silver greyhound attached to my watch-chain and an obnoxious
reputation in foreign countries. I am Lord Denchester of
Denchester, a harmless English peer traveling on his honeymoon.
By the way, I hope you like the title."
"I shall love it when I get used to it," she declared. "To be an
English Countess is dazzling, but I do think that I ought not to
go on singing at Covent Garden."
"To-morrow will be your last night," he reminded her. "I have asked
Laverick and the dear little girl he is going to marry to come with
me. Afterwards we must all have supper together."
"How nice of you!" she exclaimed.
"I don't know about that," Bellamy said, smiling. "I really like
Laverick. He is a decent fellow and a good sort. Incidentally, he
was thundering useful to us, and pretty plucky about it. He
interests me, too, in another way. He is a man who, face to face
with a moral problem, acted exactly as I should have done myself!"
"You mean about the twenty thousand pounds?" she asked.
"He was practically dishonest," he pointed out. "He had no right
to use that money and he ought to have taken the pocket-book to the
police-station. If he had done so - that is to say, if he had
waited there for the police, if he had been seen to hold out that
pocket-book, to have discussed it with any one, it is ten to one
that there would have been another tragedy that night. At any
rate, the document would never have come to us."
"My moral judgment is warped," she asserted, "from the fact that
Laverick's decision brought us the document."
"Perhaps so," he agreed, "and yet, there was the man face to face
with ruin. The use of that money for a few hours did no one any
harm, and saved him. I say that such a deed is always a matter of
calculation, and in this case that he was justified."
"I wonder what he really thinks about it himself," she remarked.
"Perhaps I'll ask him."
But when the time came, and he sat in the box with Laverick and Zoe,
he forgot everything else in the joy of watching the woman whom he
had loved so long. She moved about the stage that night as though
her feet indeed fell upon the air. She appeared to be singing
always with restraint, yet with some new power in her voice, a
quality which even in her simpler notes left the great audience
thrilled. Already there was a rumor that it was her last appearance.
Her marriage to Bellamy had been that day announced in the Morning
Post. When, in the last act, she sang alone on the stage the famous
love song, it seemed to them all that although her voice trembled
more than once, it was a new thing to which they listened. Zoe
found herself clasping Laverick's hand in tremulous excitement.
Bellamy sat like a statue, a little back in the box, his clean-cut
face thrown into powerful relief by the shadows beyond. Yet, as
he listened, his eyes, too, were marvelously soft. The song grew
and grew till, with the last notes, the whole story of an exquisite
and expectant passion seemed trembling in her voice. The last note
came from her lips almost as though unwillingly, and was prolonged
for an extraordinary period. When it died away, its passing seemed
something almost unrealizable. It quivered away into a silence
which lasted for many seconds before the gathering roar of applause
swept the house. And in those last few seconds she had turned and
faced Bellamy. Their eyes met, and the light which flashed from
his seemed answered by the quivering of her throat. It was her
good-bye. She was singing a new love-song, singing her way into
the life of the man whom she loved, singing her way into love
itself. Once more the great house, packed to the ceiling, was worked
up to a state of frenzied excitement. Bellamy was recognized, and
the significance of her song sent a wave of sentiment through the
house whose only possible form of expression took to itself shape in
the frantic greetings which called her to the front again and again.
But the three in the box were silent. Bellamy stood back in the
shadows. Laverick and Zoe seemed suddenly to become immersed in
themselves. Bellamy threw open the door of the box and pointed
"At Luigi's in half-an-hour," said he softly. "You will excuse me
for a few minutes? I am going to Louise."
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