The Yellow Crayon
E. Phillips Oppenheim
Part 1 out of 6
The Yellow Crayon by E. Phillips Oppenheim
It was late summer-time, and the perfume of flowers stole into the
darkened room through the half-opened window. The sunlight forced
its way through a chink in the blind, and stretched across the floor
in strange zigzag fashion. From without came the pleasant murmur
of bees and many lazier insects floating over the gorgeous flower
beds, resting for a while on the clematis which had made the piazza
a blaze of purple splendour. And inside, in a high-backed chair,
there sat a man, his arms folded, his eyes fixed steadily upon
vacancy. As he sat then, so had he sat for a whole day and a whole
night. The faint sweet chorus of glad living things, which alone
broke the deep silence of the house, seemed neither to disturb nor
interest him. He sat there like a man turned to stone, his
forehead riven by one deep line, his straight firm mouth set close
and hard. His servant, the only living being who had approached
him, had set food by his side, which now and then he had
mechanically taken. Changeless as a sphinx, he had sat there in
darkness and in light, whilst sunlight had changed to moonlight,
and the songs of the birds had given place to the low murmuring
of frogs from a lake below the lawns.
At last it seemed that his unnatural fit had passed away. He
stretched out his hand and struck a silver gong which had been left
within his reach. Almost immediately a man, pale-faced, with full
dark eyes and olive complexion, dressed in the sombre garb of an
indoor servant, stood at his elbow.
It was before him, served with almost incredible despatch - a small
cobwebbed bottle and a glass of quaint shape, on which were
beautifully emblazoned a coronet and fleur-de-lis. He drank slowly
and deliberately. When he set the glass down it was empty.
"You will pack my things and your own. We shall leave for New York
this evening. Telegraph to the Holland House for rooms."
"For how many days, your Grace?"
"We shall not return here. Pay off all the servants save two of
the most trustworthy, who will remain as caretakers."
The man's face was as immovable as his master's.
"Madame will not be returning. She will have no further use for
her maid. See, however, that her clothes and all her personal
belongings remain absolutely undisturbed."
"Has your Grace any further orders?"
"Take pencil and paper. Send this cablegram. Are you ready?"
The man's head moved in respectful assent.
"No 27, Rue de St. Pierre,
"Avenue de L'Opera, Paris.
"Meet me at Sherry's Restaurant, New York, one month to-day, eleven
p.m. - V. S."
"It shall be sent immediately, your Grace. The train for New York
leaves at seven-ten. A carriage will be here in one hour and five
The man moved towards the door. His master looked up.
"The Duc de Souspennier remains here - or at the bottom of the
lake - what matters! It is Mr. Sabin who travels to New York,
and for whom you engage rooms at the Holland House. Mr. Sabin is
a cosmopolitan of English proclivities."
"Very good, sir!"
"Lock this door. Bring my coat and hat five minutes before the
carriage starts. Let the servants be well paid. Let none of them
attempt to see me."
The man bowed and disappeared. Left to himself, Mr. Sabin rose from
his chair, and pushing open the windows, stood upon the verandah.
He leaned heavily upon his stick with both hands, holding it before
him. Slowly his eyes traveled over the landscape.
It was a very beautiful home which he was leaving. Before him
stretched the gardens - Italian in design, brilliant with flowers,
with here and there a dark cedar-tree drooping low upon the lawn.
A yew hedge bordered the rose-garden, a fountain was playing in
the middle of a lake. A wooden fence encircled the grounds, and
beyond was a smooth rolling park, with little belts of pine
plantations and a few larger trees here and there. In the far
distance the red flag was waving on one of the putting greens.
Archie Green was strolling up the hillside, - his pipe in his mouth,
and his driver under his arm. Mr. Sabin watched, and the lines in
his face grew deeper and deeper.
"I am an old man," he said softly, "but I will live to see them
suffer who have done this evil thing."
He turned slowly back into the room, and limping rather more than
was usual with him, he pushed aside a portiere and passed into a
charmingly furnished country drawing-room. Only the flowers hung
dead in their vases; everything else was fresh and sweet and dainty.
Slowly he threaded his way amongst the elegant Louis Quinze
furniture, examining as though for the first time the beautiful old
tapestry, the Sevres china, the Chippendale table, which was
priceless, the exquisite portraits painted by Greuze, and the
mysterious green twilights and grey dawns of Corot. Everywhere
treasures of art, yet everywhere the restraining hand of the artist.
The faint smell of dead rose leaves hung about the room. Already
one seemed conscious of a certain emptiness as though the genius of
the place had gone. Mr. Sabin leaned heavily upon his stick, and
his head drooped lower and lower. A soft, respectful voice came
to him from the other room.
"In five minutes, sir, the carriage will be at the door. I have
your coat and hat here."
Mr. Sabin looked up.
"I am quite ready, Duson!" he said.
* * * * *
The servants in the hall stood respectfully aside to let him pass.
On the way to the depot he saw nothing of those who saluted him.
In the car he sat with folded arms in the most retired seat, looking
steadfastly out of the window at the dying day. There were
mountains away westwards, touched with golden light; sometimes for
long minutes together the train was rushing through forests whose
darkness was like that of a tunnel. Mr. Sabin seemed indifferent
to these changes. The coming of night did not disturb him. His
brain was at work, and the things which he saw were hidden from
Duson, with a murmur of apology, broke in upon his meditations.
"You will pardon me, sir, but the second dinner is now being served.
The restaurant car will be detached at the next stop."
"What of it?" Mr. Sabin asked calmly.
"I have taken the liberty of ordering dinner for you, sir. It is
thirty hours since you ate anything save biscuits."
Mr. Sabin rose to his feet.
"You are quite right, Duson," he said. "I will dine."
In half-an-hour he was back again. Duson placed before him silently
a box of cigarettes and matches. Mr. Sabin smoked.
Soon the lights of the great city flared in the sky, the train
stopped more frequently, the express men and newspaper boys came
into evidence. Mr. Sabin awoke from his long spell of thought. He
bought a newspaper, and glanced through the list of steamers which
had sailed during the week. When the train glided into the depot
he was on his feet and ready to leave it.
"You will reserve our rooms, Duson, for one month," he said on the
way to the hotel. We shall probably leave for Europe a month
"Very good, sir."
"You were Mrs. Peterson's servant, Duson, before you were mine!"
"You have been with her, I believe, for many years. You are
doubtless much attached to her!"
"Indeed I am, sir!"
"You may have surmised, Duson, that she has left me. I desire to
ensure your absolute fidelity, so I take you into my confidence to
this extent. Your mistress is in the hands of those who have some
power over her. Her absence is involuntary so far as she is
concerned. It has been a great blow to me. I am prepared to
run all risks to discover her whereabouts. It is late in my life
for adventures, but it is very certain that adventures and dangers
are before us. In accompanying me you will associate yourself with
many risks. Therefore - "
Duson held up his hand.
"I beg, sir," he exclaimed, "that you will not suggest for a moment
my leaving your service on that account. I beg most humbly, sir,
that you will not do me that injustice."
Mr. Sabin paused. His eyes, like lightning, read the other's face.
"It is settled then, Duson," he said. "Kindly pay this cabman, and
follow me as quickly as possible."
Mr. Sabin passed across the marble hall, leaning heavily upon his
stick. Yet for all his slow movements there was a new alertness
in his eyes and bearing. He was once more taking keen note of
everybody and everything about him. Only a few days ago she had
He claimed his rooms at the office, and handed the keys to Duson,
who by this time had rejoined him. At the moment of turning away
he addressed an inquiry to the clerk behind the counter.
"Can you tell me if the Duchess of Souspennier is staying here?"
The young man glanced up.
"Been here, I guess. Left on Tuesday."
Mr. Sabin turned away. He did not speak again until Duson and he
were alone in the sitting-room. Then he drew out a five dollar bill.
"Duson," he said, "take this to the head luggage porter. Tell him
to bring his departure book up here at once, and there is another
waiting for him. You understand?"
Mr. Sabin turned to enter his bed-chamber. His attention was
attracted, however, by a letter lying flat upon the table. He took
it up. It was addressed to Mr. Sabin.
"This is very clever," he mused, hesitating for a moment before
opening it. "I wired for rooms only a few hours ago - and I find
a letter. It is the commencement."
He tore open the envelope, and drew out a single half-sheet of
note-paper. Across it was scrawled a single sentence only.
"Go back to Lenox."
There was no signature, nor any date. The only noticeable thing
about this brief communication was that it was written in yellow
pencil of a peculiar shade. Mr. Sabin's eyes glittered as he read.
"The yellow crayon!" he muttered.
Duson knocked softly at the door. Mr. Sabin thrust the letter and
envelope into his breast coat pocket.
This is the luggage porter, sir," Duson announced. "He is prepared
to answer any questions."
The man took out his book. Mr. Sabin, who was sitting in an
easy-chair, turned sideways towards him.
"The Duchess of Souspennier was staying here last week," he said.
"She left, I believe, on Thursday or Friday. Can you tell me
whether her baggage went through your hands?"
The man set down his hat upon a vacant chair, and turned over the
leaves of his book.
"Guess I can fix that for you," he remarked, running his forefinger
down one of the pages. "Here we are. The Duchess left on Friday,
and we checked her baggage through to Lenox by the New York, New
Haven & Hartford."
Mr. Sabin nodded.
"Thank you," he said. "She would probably take a carriage to the
station. It will be worth another ten dollars to you if you can
find me the man who drove her."
"Well, we ought to manage that for you," the man remarked
encouragingly. "It was one of Steve Hassell's carriages, I guess,
unless the lady took a hansom."
"Very good," Mr. Sabin said. "See if you can find him. Keep my
inquiries entirely to yourself. It will pay you."
"That's all right," the man remarked. "Don't you go to bed for
half-an-hour, and I guess you'll hear from me again."
Duson busied himself in the bed-chamber, Mr. Sabin sat motionless
in his easy chair. Soon there came a tap at the door. The porter
reappeared ushering in a smart-looking young man, who carried a
shiny coachman's hat in his hand.
"Struck it right fust time," the porter remarked cheerfully. "This
is the man, sir.
Mr. Sabin turned his head.
"You drove a lady from here to the New York, New Haven & Hartford
Depot last Friday?" he asked.
"'Well, not exactly, sir," the man answered. "The Duchess took my
cab, and the first address she gave was the New York, New Haven
& Hartford Depot, but before we'd driven a hundred yards she pulled
the check-string and ordered me to go to the Waldorf. She paid me
there, and went into the hotel."
"You have not seen her since?"
"You knew her by sight, you say. Was there anything special about
The man hesitated.
"She'd a pretty thick veil on, sir, but she raised it to pay me,
and I should say she'd been crying. She was much paler, too, than
last time I drove her."
"When was that?" Mr. Sabin asked.
"In the spring, sir, - with you, begging your pardon. You were at
the Netherlands, and I drove you out several times."
"You seem," Mr. Sabin said, "to be a person with some powers of
observation. It would pay you very well indeed if you would
ascertain from any of your mates at the Waldorf when and with whom
the lady in question left that hotel."
"I'll have a try, sir," the man answered. "The Duchess was better
known here, but some of them may have recognised her."
"She had no luggage, I presume?" Mr. Sabin asked.
"Her dressing-case and jewel-case only, sir."
"So you see," Mr. Sabin continued, "it is probable that she did not
remain at the Waldorf for the night. Base your inquiries on that
"Very good, sir."
"From your manners and speech," Mr. Sabin said, raising his head,
"I should take you to be an Englishman."
"Quite correct, sir," the man answered. "I drove a hansom in
London for eight years."
"You will understand me then," Mr. Sabin continued, "when I say
that I have no great confidence in the police of this country. I
do not wish to be blackmailed or bullied. I would ask you,
therefore, to make your inquiries with discretion."
"I'll be careful, sir," the man answered.
Mr. Sabin handed to each of them a roll of notes. The cabdriver
lingered upon the threshold. Mr. Sabin looked up.
"Could I speak a word to you-in private, sir?"
Mr. Sabin motioned Duson to leave the room. The baggage porter
had already departed.
"When I cleaned out my cab at night, sir, I found this. I didn't
reckon it was of any consequence at first, but from the questions
you have been asking it may be useful to you."
Mr. Sabin took the half-sheet of note-paper in silence. It was the
ordinary stationery of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, and the following
words were written upon it in a faint delicate handwriting, but in
"To LUCILLE, Duchesse de SOUSPENNIER.-
"You will be at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in the main corridor
at four o'clock this afternoon."
The thin paper shook in Mr. Sabin's fingers. There was no signature,
but he fancied that the handwriting was not wholly unfamiliar to him.
He looked slowly up towards the cabman.
"I am much obliged to you," he said. "This is of interest to me."
He stretched out his hand to the little wad of notes which Duson had
left upon the table, but the cabdriver backed away.
"Beg pardon, sir," he said. "You've given me plenty. The letter's
of no value to me. I came very near tearing it up, but for the
peculiar colour pencil it's written with. Kinder took my fancy,
"The letter is of value," Mr. Sabin said. "It tells me much more
than I hoped to discover. It is our good fortune."
The man accepted the little roll of bills and departed. Mr. Sabin
touched the bell.
"Duson, what time is it?"
"Nearly midnight, sir!"
"I will go to bed!"
"Very good, sir!"
"Mix me a sleeping draught, Duson. I need rest. See that I am not
disturbed until ten o'clock to-morrow morning.
At precisely ten o'clock on the following morning Duson brought
chocolate, which he had prepared himself, and some dry toast to his
master's bedside. Upon the tray was a single letter. Mr. Sabin
sat up in bed and tore open the envelope. The following words were
written upon a sheet of the Holland House notepaper in the same
peculiar coloured crayon.
"The first warning addressed to you yesterday was a friendly one.
Profit by it. Go back to Lenox. You are only exposing yourself to
danger and the person you seek to discomfort. Wait there, and some
one shall come to you shortly who will explain what has happened,
and the necessity for it."
Mr. Sabin smiled, a slow contemplative smile. He sipped his
chocolate and lit a cigarette.
"Our friends, then," he said softly, "do not care about pursuit and
inquiries. It is ridiculous to suppose that their warning is given
out of any consideration to me. Duson!"
"My bath. I shall rise now."
Mr. Sabin made his toilet with something of the same deliberation
which characterised all his movements. Then he descended into the
hall, bought a newspaper, and from a convenient easy-chair kept a
close observation upon every one who passed to and fro for about
an hour. Later on he ordered a carriage, and made several calls
At a few minutes past twelve he entered the bar of the Fifth Avenue
Hotel, and ordering a drink sat down at one of the small tables.
The room was full, but Mr. Sabin's attention was directed solely to
one group of men who stood a short distance away before the counter
drinking champagne. The central person of the group was a big man,
with an unusually large neck, a fat pale face, a brown moustache
tinged with grey, and a voice and laugh like a fog-horn. It was he
apparently who was paying for the champagne, and he was clearly on
intimate terms with all the party. Mr. Sabin watched for his
opportunity, and then rising from his seat touched him on the
"Mr. Skinner, I believe?" he said quietly.
The big man looked down upon Mr. Sabin with the sullen offensiveness
of the professional bully.
"You've hit it first time," he admitted. "Who are you, anyway?"
Mr. Sabin produced a card.
"I called this morning," he said, "upon the gentleman whose name you
will see there. He directed me to you, and told me to come here."
The man tore the card into small pieces.
"So long, boys," he said, addressing his late companions. "See you
They accepted his departure in silence, and one and all favoured
Mr. Sabin with a stare of blatant curiosity.
"I should be glad to speak with you," Mr. Sabin said, "in a place
where we are likely to be neither disturbed nor overheard."
"You come right across to my office," was the prompt reply. "I
guess we can fix it up there."
Mr. Sabin motioned to his coachman, and they crossed Broadway. His
companion led him into a tall building, talking noisily all the
time about the pals whom he had just left. An elevator transported
them to the twelfth floor in little more than as many seconds, and
Mr. Skinner ushered his visitor into a somewhat bare-looking office,
smelling strongly of stale tobacco smoke. Mr. Skinner at once lit
a cigar, and seating himself before his desk, folded his arms and
leaned over towards Mr. Sabin.
"Smoke one?" he asked, pointing to the open box.
Mr. Sabin declined.
"Get right ahead then."
"I am an Englishman," Mr. Sabin said slowly, "and consequently am
not altogether at home with your ways over here. I have always
understood, however, that if you are in need of any special
information such as we should in England apply to the police for,
over here there is a quicker and more satisfactory method of
"You've come a long way round," Mr. Skinner remarked, spitting
upon the floor, "but you're dead right."
"I am in need of some information," Mr. Sabin continued, "and
accordingly I called this morning on Mr. - "
Mr. Skinner held up his hand.
"All right," he said. "We don't mention names more than we can
help. Call him the boss."
"He assured me that the information I was in need of was easily to
be obtained, and gave me a card to you."
"Go right on," Mr. Skinner said. "What is it?"
"On Friday last," Mr. Sabin said, "at four o'clock, the Duchess of
Souspennier, whose picture I will presently show you, left the
Holland House Hotel for the New York, New Haven & Hartford Depot,
presumably for her home at Lenox, to which place her baggage had
already been checked. On the way she ordered the cabman to set her
down at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, which he did at a few minutes
past four. The Duchess has not returned home or been directly
heard from since. I wish to ascertain her movements since she
arrived at the Waldorf."
"Sounds dead easy," Mr. Skinner remarked reassuringly. "Got the
Mr. Sabin touched the spring of a small gold locket which he drew
from an inside waistcoat pocket, and disclosed a beautifully painted
miniature. Mr. Skinner's thick lips were pursed into a whistle.
He was on the point of making a remark when he chanced to glance
into Mr. Sabin's face. The remark remained unspoken.
He drew a sheet of note-paper towards him and made a few notes upon
"The Duchess many friends in New York?"
"At present none. The few people whom she knows here are at Newport
or in Europe just now."
"Any idea whom she went to the Waldorf to see? More we know the
Mr. Sabin handed him the letter which had been picked up in the cab.
Mr. Skinner read it through, and spat once more upon the floor.
"What the h---'s this funny coloured pencil mean?"
"I do not know," Mr. Sabin answered. "You will see that the two
anonymous communications which I have received since arriving in
New York yesterday are written in the same manner."
Mr. Sabin handed him the other two letters, which Mr. Skinner
"I guess you'd better tell me who you are," he suggested.
"I am the husband of the Duchess of Souspennier," Mr. Sabin answered.
"The Duchess send any word home at all?" Mr. Skinner asked.
Mr. Sabin produced a worn telegraph form. It was handed in at Fifth
Avenue, New York, at six o'clock on Friday. It contained the single
"H'm," Mr. Skinner remarked. "We'll find all you want to know by
"What do you make of the two letters which I received?" Mr. Sabin
"Bunkum!" Mr. Skinner replied confidently.
Mr. Sabin nodded his head.
"You have no secret societies over here, I suppose?" he said.
Mr. Skinner laughed loudly and derisively.
"I guess not," he answered. "They keep that sort of rubbish on the
other side of the pond."
Mr. Sabin was thoughtful for a moment. "You expect to find, then,"
he remarked, "some other cause for my wife's disappearance?"
"There don't seem much room for doubt concerning that, sir," Mr.
Skinner said; "but I never speculate. I will bring you the facts
to-night between eight and eleven. Now as to the business side of
Mr. Sabin was for a moment puzzled.
"What's the job worth to you?" Mr. Skinner asked. "I am willing to
pay," Mr. Sabin answered, "according to your demands."
"It's a simple case," Mr. Skinner admitted, "but our man at the
Waldorf is expensive. If you get all your facts, I guess five
hundred dollars will about see you through."
"I will pay that," Mr. Sabin answered.
"I will bring you the letters back to-night," Mr. Skinner said.
"I guess I'll borrow that locket of yours, too."
Mr. Sabin shook his head.
"That," he said firmly, "I do not part with." Mr. Skinner scratched
his ear with his penholder. "It's the only scrap of identifying
matter we've got," he remarked. "Of course it's a dead simple case,
and we can probably manage without it. But I guess it's as well to
fix the thing right down."
"If you will give me a piece of paper," Mr. Sabin said, "I will make
you a sketch of the Duchess. The larger the better. I can give you
an idea of the sort of clothes she would probably be wearing."
Mr. Skinner furnished him with a double sheet of paper, and Mr.
Sabin, with set face and unflinching figures, reproduced in a few
simple strokes a wonderful likeness of the woman he loved. He
pushed it away from him when he had finished without remark. Mr.
Skinner was loud in its praises.
"I guess you're an artist, sir, for sure," he remarked. "This'll
fix the thing. Shall I come to your hotel?"
"If you please," Mr. Sabin answered. "I shall be there for the rest
of the day."
Mr. Skinner took up his hat.
"Guess I'll take my dinner and get right to work," he remarked.
"Say, you come along, Mr. Sabin. I'll take you where they'll fix
you such a beefsteak as you never tasted in your life."
"I thank you very much," Mr. Sabin said, "but I must beg to be
excused. I am expecting some despatches at my hotel. If you are
successful this afternoon you will perhaps do me the honour of
dining with me to-night. I will wait until eight-thirty."
The two men parted upon the pavement. Mr. Skinner, with his small
bowler hat on the back of his head, a fresh cigar in the corner of
his mouth, and his thumbs in the armholes of his waistcoat, strolled
along Broadway with something akin to a smile parting his lips, and
showing his yellow teeth.
"Darned old fool," he muttered. "To marry a slap-up handsome woman
like that, and then pretend not to know what it means when she bolts.
Guess I'll spoil his supper to-night."
Mr. Sabin, however, was recovering his spirits. He, too, was
leaning back in the corner of his carriage with a faint smile
brightening his hard, stern face. But, unlike Mr. Skinner, he did
not talk to himself.
R. Sabin, who was never, for its own sake, fond of solitude, had
ordered dinner for two at eight-thirty in the general dining-room.
At a few minutes previous to that hour Mr. Skinner presented himself.
Mr. Skinner was not in the garb usually affected by men of the world
who are invited to dine out. The long day's exertion, too, had had
its effect upon his linen. His front, indeed, through a broad gap,
confessed to a foundation of blue, and one of his cuffs showed a
marked inclination to escape from his wrist over his knuckles. His
face was flushed, and he exhaled a strong odour of cigars and
cocktails. Nevertheless, Mr. Sabin was very glad to see him, and
to receive the folded sheet of paper which he at once produced.
"I have taken the liberty," Mr. Sabin remarked, on his part, "of
adding a trifle to the amount we first spoke of, which I beg you
will accept from me as a mark of my gratitude for your promptness."
"Sure!" Mr. Skinner answered tersely, receiving the little roll of
bills without hesitation, and retreating into a quiet corner, where
he carefully counted and examined every one. "That's all right!"
he announced at the conclusion of his task. "Come and have one
with me now before you read your little billet-doux, eh?"
"I shall not read your report until after dinner," Mr. Sabin said,
"and I think if you are ready that we might as well go in. At the
head-waiter's suggestion I have ordered a cocktail with the oysters,
and if we are much later he seemed to fear that it might affect the
condition of the - I think it was terrapin, he said."
Mr. Skinner stopped short. His tone betrayed emotion.
"Did you say terrapin, sir?"
Mr. Sabin nodded. Mr. Skinner at once took his arm.
"Guess we'll go right in," he declared. "I hate to have a good
They were an old-looking couple. Mr. Sabin quietly but faultlessly
attired in the usual evening dinner garb, Mr. Skinner ill-dressed,
untidy, unwashed and frowsy. But here at least Mr. Sabin's
incognito had been unavailing, for he had stayed at the hotel several
times - as he remembered with an odd little pang - with Lucille, and
the head-waiter, with a low bow, ushered them to their table. Mr.
Skinner saw the preparations for their repast, the oysters, the
cocktails in tall glasses, the magnum of champagne in ice, and
chuckled. To take supper with a duke was a novelty to him, but he
was not shy. He sat down and tucked his serviette into his
waistcoat, raised his glass, and suddenly set it down again.
"The boss!" he exclaimed in amazement.
Mr. Sabin turned his head in the direction which his companion had
indicated. Coming hastily across the room towards them, already
out of breath as though with much hurrying, was a thick-set, powerful
man, with the brutal face and coarse lips of a prizefighter; a beard
cropped so short as to seem the growth of a few days only covered
his chin, and his moustache, treated in the same way, was not thick
enough to conceal a cruel mouth. He was carefully enough dressed,
and a great diamond flashed from his tie. There was a red mark
round his forehead where his hat had been, and the perspiration was
streaming from his forehead. He strode without hesitation to the
table where Mr. Sabin and his guest were sitting, and without even
a glance at the former turned upon his myrmidon.
"Where's that report?" he cried roughly. "'Where is it?"
Mr. Skinner seemed to have shrunk into a smaller man. He pointed
across the table.
"I've given it to him," he said. "What's wrong, boss?"
The newcomer raised his hand as though to strike Skinner. He
gnashed his teeth with the effort to control himself.
"You damned blithering idiot," he said hoarsely, gripping the side
of the table. "Why wasn't it presented to me first?"
"Guess it didn't seem worth while," Skinner answered. "There's
nothing in the darned thing."
"You ignorant fool, hold your tongue," was the fierce reply.
The newcomer sank into a chair and wiped the perspiration from
his streaming forehead. Mr. Sabin signaled to a waiter.
"You seem upset, Mr. Horser," he remarked politely. "Allow me to
offer you a glass of wine.
Mr. Horser did not immediately reply, but he accepted the glass
which the waiter brought him, and after a moment's hesitation
drained its contents. Then he turned to Mr. Sabin.
"You said nothing about those letters you had had when you came
to see me this morning!"
"It was you yourself," Mr. Sabin reminded him, "who begged me not
to enter into particulars. You sent me on to Mr. Skinner. I told
Mr. Horser leaned over the table. His eyes were bloodshot, his
tone was fierce and threatening. Mr. Sabin was coldly courteous.
The difference between the demeanour of the two men was remarkable.
"You knew what those letters meant! This is a plot! Where is
Mr. Sabin raised his eyebrows. He signaled to the head-waiter.
"Be so good as to continue the service of my dinner," he ordered.
"The champagne is a trifle too chilled. You can take it out of
The man bowed, with a curious side glance at Horser.
"Certainly, your Grace!"
Horser was almost speechless with anger.
"Are you going to answer my questions?" he demanded thickly.
"I have no particular objection to doing so," Mr. Sabin answered,
"but until you can sit up and compose yourself like an ordinary
individual, I decline to enter into any conversation with you at
Again Mr. Horser raised his voice, and the glare in his eyes was
like the glare of a wild beast.
"Do you know who I am?" he asked. "Do you know who you're talking
Mr. Sabin looked at him coolly, and fingered his wineglass.
"Well," he said, "I've a shocking memory for names, but yours is
- Mr. Horser, isn't it? I heard it for the first time this morning,
and my memory will generally carry me through four-and-twenty hours."
There was a moment's silence. Horser was no fool. He accepted his
defeat and dropped the bully.
"You're a stranger in this city, Mr. Sabin, and I guess you aren't
altogether acquainted with our ways yet," he said. "But I want you
to understand this. The report which is in your pocket has got to
be returned to me. If I'd known what I was meddling with I wouldn't
have touched your business for a hundred thousand dollars. It's got
to be returned to me, I say!" he repeated in a more threatening tone.
Mr. Sabin helped himself to fish, and made a careful examination of
"After all," he said meditatively, "I am not sure that I was wise
in insisting upon a sauce piquante. I beg your pardon, Mr. Horser.
Please do not think me inattentive, but I am very hungry. So, I
believe, is my friend, Mr. Skinner. Will you not join us - or
perhaps you have already dined?"
There was an ugly flush in Mr. Horser's cheeks, but he struggled to
keep his composure.
"Will you give me back that report?"
"When I have read it, with pleasure," Mr. Sabin answered. "Before,
Mr. Horser swallowed an exceedingly vicious oath. He struck the
table lightly with his forefinger.
"Look here," he said. "If you'd lived in New York a couple of
years, even a couple of months, you wouldn't talk like that. I tell
you that I hold the government of this city in my right hand. I
don't want to be unpleasant, but if that paper is not in my hands
by the time you leave this table I shall have you arrested as you
leave this room, and the papers taken from you."
"Dear me," Mr. Sabin said, "this is serious. On what charge may I
ask should I be exposed to this inconvenience?"
"Charge be damned!" Mr. Horser answered. "The police don't want
particulars from me. When I say do a thing they do it. They know
that if they declined it would be their last day on the force."
Mr. Sabin filled his glass and leaned back in his chair.
"This," he remarked, "is interesting. I am always glad to have the
opportunity of gaining an insight into the customs of different
countries. I had an idea that America was a country remarkable for
the amount of liberty enjoyed by its inhabitants. Your proposed
course of action seems scarcely in keeping with this."
"What are you going to do? Come, I've got to have an answer."
"I don't quite understand," Mr. Sabin remarked, with a puzzled look,
"what your official position is in connection with the police."
Mr. Horser's face was a very ugly sight. "Oh, curse my official
position," he exclaimed thickly. "If you want proof of what I say
you shall have it in less than five minutes. Skinner, be off and
fetch a couple of constables."
"I really must protest," Mr. Sabin said. "Mr. Skinner is my guest,
and I will not have him treated in this fashion, just as the
terrapin is coming in, too. Sit down, Mr. Skinner, sit down. I
will settle this matter with you in my room, Mr. Horser, after I
have dined. I will not even discuss it before."
Mr. Horser opened his mouth twice, and closed it again. He knew
that his opponent was simply playing to gain time, but, after all,
he held the trump card. He could afford to wait. He turned to a
waiter and ordered a cigar. Mr. Sabin and Mr. Skinner continued
Conversation was a little difficult, though Mr. Sabin showed no
signs of an impaired appetite. Skinner was white with fear, and
glanced every now and then nervously at his chief. Mr. Horser
smoked without ceasing, and maintained an ominous silence. Mr.
Sabin at last, with a sigh, rose, and lighting a cigarette, took
his stick from the waiter and prepared to leave.
"I fear, Mr. Horser," he remarked, "that your presence has scarcely
contributed to the cheerfulness of our repast. Mr. Skinner, am I
to be favoured with your company also upstairs?"
Horser clutched that gentleman's arm and whispered a few words in
"Mr. Skinner," he said, "will join us presently. What is your
"336," Mr. Sabin answered. "You will excuse my somewhat slow
They crossed the hall and entered the elevator. Mr. Horser's face
began to clear. In a moment or two they would be in Mr. Sabin's
sitting-room-alone. He regarded with satisfaction the other's slim,
delicate figure and the limp with which he moved. He felt that the
danger was already over.
BUT, after all, things did not exactly turn out as Mr. Horser had
imagined. The sight of the empty room and the closed door were
satisfactory enough, and he did not hesitate for a moment.
"Look here, sir," he said, "you and I are going to settle this
matter quick. Whatever you paid Skinner you can have back again.
But I'm going to have that report."
He took a quick step forward with uplifted hand - and looked into
the shining muzzle of a tiny revolver. Behind it Mr. Sabin's face,
no longer pleasant and courteous, had taken to itself some very
"I am a weak man, Mr. Horser, but I am never without the means of
self-defence," Mr. Sabin said in a still, cold tone. "Be so good
as to sit down in that easy-chair."
Mr. Horser hesitated. For one moment he stood as though about to
carry out his first intention. He stood glaring at his opponent,
his face contracted into a snarl, his whole appearance hideous,
almost bestial. Mr. Sabin smiled upon him contemptuously - the
maddening, compelling smile of the born aristocrat.
Mr. Horser sat down, whereupon Mr. Sabin followed suit.
"Now what have you to say to me?" Mr. Sabin asked quietly.
"I want that report," was the dogged answer.
"You will not have it," Mr. Sabin answered. "You can take that
for granted. You shall not take it from me by force, and I will
see that you do not charm it out of my pocket by other means. The
information which it contains is of the utmost possible importance
to me. I have bought it and paid for it, and I shall use it."
Mr. Horser moistened his dry lips.
"I will give you," he said, "twenty thousand dollars for its return."
Mr. Sabin laughed softly.
"You bid high," he said. "I begin to suspect that our friends on
the other side of the water have been more than ordinarily kind to
"I will give you - forty thousand dollars."
Mr. Sabin raised his eyebrows.
"So much? After all, that sounds more like fear than anything.
You cannot hope to make a profitable deal out of that. Dear me!
It seems only a few minutes ago that I heard your interesting friend,
Mr. Skinner, shake with laughter at the mention of such a thing as
a secret society."
"Skinner is a blasted fool," Horser exclaimed fiercely. "Listen
here, Mr. Sabin. You can read that report if you must, but, as
I'm a living man you'll not stir from New York if you do. I'll
make your life a hell for you. Don't you understand that no one
but a born fool would dare to quarrel with me in this city? I
hold the prison keys, the police are mine. I shall make my own
charge, whatever I choose, and they shall prove it for me."
Mr. Sabin shook his head.
"This sounds very shocking," he remarked. "I had no idea that the
largest city of the most enlightened country in the world was in
such a sorry plight."
"Oh, curse your sarcasm," Mr. Horser said. "I'm talking facts, and
you've got to know them. Will you give up that report? You can
find out all there is in it for yourself. But I'm going to give it
you straight. If I don't have that report back unread, you'll never
leave New York."
Mr. Sabin was genuinely amused.
"My good fellow," he said, "you have made yourself a notorious
person in this country by dint of incessant bullying and bribing
and corruption of every sort. You may possess all the powers you
claim. Your only mistake seems to be that you are too thick-headed
to know when you are overmatched. I have been a diplomatist all my
life," Mr. Sabin said, rising slowly to his feet, and with a sudden
intent look upon his face, "and if I were to be outwitted by such a
novice as you I should deserve to end my days - in New York."
Mr. Horser rose also to his feet. A smile of triumph was on his
"Well," he said, "we - Come in! Come in!" The door was thrown
open. Skinner and two policemen entered. Mr. Sabin leaned towards
the wall, and in a second the room was plunged in darkness.
"Turn on the lights!" Skinner shouted. "Seize him! He's in that
corner. Use your clubs!" Horser bawled. "Stand by the door one
of you. Damnation, where is that switch?"
He found it with a shout of triumph. Lights flared out in the room.
They stared around into every corner. Mr. Sabin was not there.
Then Horser saw the door leading into the bed-chamber, and flung
himself against it with a hoarse cry of rage.
"Break it open!" he cried to the policemen.
They hammered upon it with their clubs. Mr. Sabin's quiet voice
came to them from the other side.
"Pray do not disturb me, gentlemen," he said. "I am reading."
"Break it open, you damned fools!" Horser cried. They battered at
it sturdily, but the door was a solid one. Suddenly they heard the
key turn in the lock. Mr. Sabin stood upon the threshold.
"Gentlemen!" he exclaimed. "These are my private apartments. Why
He held out the paper.
"This is mine," he said. "The information which it contains is
bought and paid for. But if the giving it up will procure me the
privilege of your departure, pray take it.
Horser was purple with rage. He pointed with shaking fist to the
still, calm figure.
"Arrest him," he ordered. "Take him to the cells."
Mr. Sabin shrugged his shoulders.
"I am ready," he said, "but it is only fair to give you this warning.
I am the Duke of Souspennier, and I am well known in England and
France. The paper which you saw me hand to the porter in the hall
as we stepped into the elevator was a despatch in cipher to the
English Ambassador at Washington, claiming his protection. If you
take me to prison to-night you will have him to deal with to-morrow."
Mr. Horser bore himself in defeat better than at any time during
the encounter. He turned to the constables.
"Go down stairs and wait for me in the hail," he ordered. "You too,
They left the room. Horser turned to Mr. Sabin, and the veins on
his forehead stood out like whipcord.
"I know when I'm beaten," he said. "Keep your report, and be damned
to you. But remember that you and I have a score to settle, and you
can ask those who know me how often Dick Horser comes out underneath
in the long run."
He followed the others. Mr. Sabin sat down in his easy-chair with a
quiet smile upon his lips. Once more he glanced through the brief
report. Then his eyes half closed, and he sat quite still - a tired,
weary-looking man, almost unnaturally pale.
"They have kept their word," he said softly to himself, "after many
years. After many years!"
* * * * *
Duson came in to undress him shortly afterwards. He saw signs of
the struggle, but made no comment. Mr. Sabin, after a moment's
hesitation, took a phial from his pocket and poured a few drops into
a wineglassful of water.
"Duson," he said, "bring me some despatch forms and a pencil."
Mr. Sabin wrote for several moments. Then he placed the forms in
an envelope, sealed it, and handed it to Duson.
"Duson," he said, "that fellow Horser is annoyed with me. If I
should be arrested on any charge, or should fail to return to the
hotel within reasonable time, break that seal and send off the
Mr. Sabin yawned.
"I need sleep," he said. "Do not call me to-morrow morning until
I ring. And, Duson!"
"The Campania will sail from New York somewhere about the tenth of
October. I wish to secure the whole of stateroom number
twenty-eight. Go round to the office as soon as they open, secure
that room if possible, and pay a deposit. No other will do. Also
one for yourself."
"Very good, sir."
Here's a lady inquiring for you, sir - just gone up to your room in
the elevator," the hotel clerk remarked to Mr. Sabin as he paused
on his way to the door to hand in his key. "Shall I send a boy up?"
Mr. Sabin hesitated.
"A lady?" he remarked tentatively.
The hotel clerk nodded.
"Yes. I didn't notice the name, but she was an Englishwoman. I'll
"Thank you, I will return," Mr. Sabin said. "If I should miss her
on the way perhaps you will kindly redirect her to my rooms."
He rang for the elevator, and was swiftly transported to his own
floor. The door of his sitting-room was open. Duson was talking
to a tall fair woman, who turned swiftly round at the sound of his
"Ah, they found you, then!" she exclaimed, coming towards him with
outstretched hands. "Isn't this a strange place and a strange
country for us to meet once more in?"
He greeted her gallantly, but with a certain reserve, of which she
was at once aware.
"Are there any countries in the world left which are strange to so
great a traveler as Lady Muriel Carey?" he said. "The papers
here have been full of your wonderful adventures in South Africa."
"Everything shockingly exaggerated, of course," she declared. "I
have really been plagued to death since I got here with interviewers,
and that sort of person. I wonder if you know how glad I am to see
"You are very kind, indeed," he said. "Certainly there was no one
whom I expected less to see over here. You have come for the yacht
races, I suppose?"
She looked at him with a faint smile and raised eyebrows.
"Come," she said, "shall we lie to one another? Is it worth while?
Candour is so much more original."
"Candour by all means then, I beg," he answered.
"I have come over with the Dalkeiths, ostensibly to see the yacht
races. Really I have come to see you."
Mr. Sabin bowed.
"I am delightfully flattered," he murmured.
"I don't exactly mean for the pleasure of gazing into your face
once more," she continued. "I have a mission!"
Mr. Sabin looked up quickly.
"Great heavens! You, too!" he exclaimed.
"Why not?" she asked coolly. "I have been in it for years, you
know, and when I got back from South Africa everything seemed so
terribly slow that I begged for some work to do."
"And they sent you here - to me?"
"Yes," she answered, "and I was here also a few weeks ago, but you
must not ask me anything about that."
Mr. Sabin's eyebrows contracted, his face darkened. She shrank
a little away from him.
"So it is you who have robbed me of her, then," he said slowly.
"Yes, the description fits you well enough. I ask you, Lady Carey,
to remember the last time when chance brought you and me together.
Have I deserved this from you?"
She made a little gesture of impotence.
"Do be reasonable!" she begged. "What choice had I?"
He looked at her steadfastly.
"The folly of women - of clever women such as you," he said, "is
absolutely amazing. You have deliberately made a slave of
yourself - "
"One must have distraction," she murmured.
"Distraction! And so you play at this sort of thing. Is it worth
Her eyes for a moment clouded over with weariness.
"When one has filled the cup of life to the brim for many years,"
she said, "what remains that is worth while?"
"You are a young woman," he said. "You should not yet have learned
to speak with such bitterness. As for me - well, I am old indeed.
In youth and age the affections claim us. I am approaching my
She laughed derisively, yet not unkindly. "What folly!" she
"You are right," he admitted. "I suppose it is the fault of old
"In a few minutes," she said, smiling at him, "we should have become
"I," he admitted, "was floundering already."
She shrugged her shoulders.
"You talk as though sentiment were a bog."
"There have been worse similes," he declared.
"How horrid! And do you know, sir, for all your indignation you
have not yet even inquired after your wife's health."
"I trust," he said, "that she is well."
"She is in excellent health."
"Your second visit to this country," he remarked, "follows very
swiftly upon your first."
"I am here," she said, ""on your account."
"You excite my interest," he declared. "May I know your mission?"
"I have to remind you of your pledge," she said, "to assure you
of Lucille's welfare, and to prevent your leaving the country."
"Marvelous!" he exclaimed, with a slight mocking smile. "And may
I ask what means you intend to employ to keep me here?"
"Well," she said, "I have large discretionary powers. We have a
very strong branch over on this side, but I would very much rather
induce you to stay here without applying to them."
"And the inducements?" he asked.
She took a cigarette from a box which stood on the table and lit
"Well," she said, "I might appeal to your hospitality, might I not?
I am in a strange country which you have made your home. I want to
be shown round. Do you remember dining with me one night at the
Ambassador's? It was very hot, even for Paris, and we drove
afterwards in the Bois. Ask me to dine with you here, won't you?
I have never quite forgotten the last time."
Mr. Sabin laughed softly, but with undisguised mirth.
"Come," he said, "this is an excellent start. You are to play the
Circe up to date, and I am to be beguiled. How ought I to answer
you? I do remember the Ambassador's, and I do remember driving
down the Bois in your victoria, and holding - I believe I am right
- your hand. You have no right to disturb those charming memories
by attempting to turn them into bathos."
She blew out a little cloud of tobacco smoke, and watched it
"Ah!" she remarked. "I wonder who is better at that, you or I?
I may not be exactly a sentimental person, but you - you are a
"On the contrary," Mr. Sabin assured her earnestly, "I am very
much in love with my wife."
"Dear me!" she exclaimed. "You carry originality to quixoticism.
I have met several men before in my life whom I have suspected of
such a thing, but I never heard any one confess it. This little
domestic contretemps -is then, I presume, disagreeable to you!"
"To the last degree," Mr. Sabin asserted. "So much so that I
leave for England by the Campania."
She shook her head slowly.
"I wouldn't if I were you."
Lady Carey threw away the end of her cigarette, and looked for a
moment thoughtfully at her long white fingers glittering with rings.
Then she began to draw on her gloves.
"Well, in the first place," she said, "Lucille will have no time to
spare for you. You will be de trop in decidedly an uncomfortable
position. You wouldn't find London at all a good place to live in
just now, even if you ever got there - which I am inclined to doubt.
And secondly, here am I - "
"Circe!" he murmured.
"Waiting to be entertained, in a strange country, almost friendless.
I want to be shown everything, taken everywhere. And I am dying to
see your home at Lenox. I do not think your attitude towards me in
the least hospitable."
"Come, you are judging me very quickly," he declared. "What
opportunities have I had?"
"What opportunities can there be if you sail by the Campania?"
"You might dine with me to-night at least."
"Impossible! The Dalkeiths have a party to meet me. Come too,
won't you? They love dukes - even French ones."
He shook his head.
"There is no attraction for me in a large party," he answered. "I
am getting to an age when to make conversation in return for a
dinner seems scarcely a fair exchange."
"From your host's point of view, or yours?"
"From both! Besides, one's digestion suffers."
"You are certainly getting old," she declared. "Come, I must go.
You haven't been a bit nice to me. When shall I see you again?"
"It is," he answered, "for you to say."
She looked at him for a moment thoughtfully.
"Supposing," she said, "that I cried off the yacht race to-day.
Would you take me out to lunch?"
"My dear lady," he said, "it is for Circe to command - and for me
"And you'll come and have tea with me afterwards at the Waldorf?"
"That," Mr. Sabin declared, "will add still further to my happiness."
"Will you call for me, then - and where shall we have lunch, and at
what time? I must go and develop a headache at once, or that
tiresome Dalkeith boy will be pounding at my door."
"I will call for you at the Waldorf at half-past one," Mr. Sabin
said. "Unless you have any choice, I will take you to a little
place downtown where we can imagine ourselves back on the Continent,
and where we shall be spared the horror of green corn."
"Delightful," she murmured, buttoning her glove. "Then you shall
take me for a drive to Fifth Avenue, or to see somebody's tomb,
and my woman shall make some real Russian tea for us in my
sitting-room. Really, I think I'm doing very well for the first
day. Is the spell beginning to work?"
"Hideously," he assured her. "I feel already that the only thing I
dread in life are these two hours before luncheon."
"That is quite as it should be. Don't trouble to come down with
me. I believe that Dalkeith pere is hanging round somewhere, and
in view of my headache perhaps you had better remain in the
background for the moment. At one-thirty, then!"
Mr. Sabin smiled as she passed out of the room, and lit a cigarette.
"I think," he said to himself, "that the arrival of Felix is
They sat together at a small table, looking upon a scene which was
probably unique in the history of the great restaurant. The younger
man was both frankly interested and undoubtedly curious. Mr. Sabin,
though his eyes seemed everywhere, retained to the full extent that
nonchalance of manner which all his life he had so assiduously
"It is wonderful, my dear Felix," he said, leisurely drawing his
cigarette-case from his pocket, "wonderful what good fellowship can
be evolved by a kindred interest in sport, and a bottle or so of
good champagne. But, after all, this is not to be taken seriously."
"Shamrock the fourth! Shamrock the fourth!"
A tall young American, his thick head of hair, which had once been
carefully parted in the middle, a little disheveled, his hard,
clean-cut face flushed with enthusiasm, had risen to his feet and
stood with a brimming glass of champagne high over his head. Almost
every one in the room rose to their feet. A college boy sprang upon
a table with extended arms. The Yale shout split the room. The
very glasses on the table rattled.
It was an Englishman now who had leaped upon a vacant table with
upraised glass. There was an answering roar of enthusiasm. Every
one drank, and every one sat down again with a pleasant thrill of
excitement at this unique scene. Felix leaned back in his chair
"One would have imagined," he murmured, "that America and England
together were at war with the rest of the world and had won a great
victory. To think that this is all the result of a yacht race. It
"All your life, my dear Felix," Mr. Sabin remarked, "you have
underrated the sporting instinct. It has a great place amongst the
impulses of the world. See how it has brought these people
"But they are already of the same kin," Felix remarked. "Their
interests and aims are alike. Their destinies are surely identical."
Mr. Sabin, who had lit his cigarette, watched the blue smoke curl
upwards, and was thoughtful for a moment.
"My dear Felix!" he said. "You are very, very young. The interests
of two great nations such as America and England can never be alike.
It is the language of diplomacy, but it is also the language of
Their conversation was for the moment interrupted by a fresh murmur
of applause, rising above the loved hum of conversation, the laughter
of women, and the popping of corks. A little troop of waiters had
just wheeled into the room two magnificent models of yachts hewn out
of blocks of solid ice and crowned with flowers. On the one were
the Stars and Stripes, on the other the Shamrock and Thistle. There
was much clapping of hands and cheering. Lady Carey, who was
sitting at the next table with her back to them, joined in the
applause so heartily that a tiny gold pencil attached to her bracelet
became detached and rolled unobserved to Mr. Sabin's side. Felix
half rose to pick it up, but was suddenly checked by a quick gesture
from his companion.
"Leave it," Mr. Sabin whispered. "I wish to return it myself."
He stooped and picked it up, a certain stealthiness apparent in his
movement. Felix watched him in amazement.
"It is Lady Carey's, is it not?" he asked.
"Yes. Be silent. I will give it back to her presently."
A waiter served them with coffee. Mr. Sabin was idly sketching
something on the back of his menu card. Felix broke into a little
laugh as the man retired.
"Mysterious as ever," he remarked.
Mr. Sabin smiled quietly. He went on with his sketch.
"I do not want," Felix said, "to seem impatient, but you must
remember that I have come all the way from Europe in response to
a very urgent message. As yet I have done nothing except form a
very uncomfortable third at a luncheon and tea party, and listen
to a good deal of enigmatic conversation between you and the
charming Lady Carey. This evening I made sure that I should be
enlightened. But no! You have given me a wonderful dinner - from
you I expected it. We have eaten terrapin, canvas-back duck, and
many other things the names of which alone were known to me. But
of the reason for which you have summoned me here - I know nothing.
Not one word have you spoken. I am beginning to fear from your
avoidance of the subject that there is some trouble between you and
Lucille. I beg that you will set my anxiety at rest."
Mr. Sabin nodded.
"It is reasonable," he said. "Look here!"
He turned the menu card round. On the back he had sketched some
sort of a device with the pencil which he had picked up, and which
instead of black-lead contained a peculiar shade of yellow crayon.
Felix sat as though turned to stone.
"Try," Mr. Sabin said smoothly, "and avoid that air of tragedy.
Some of these good people might be curious.
Felix leaned across the table. He pointed to the
"What does that mean?" he muttered.
Mr. Sabin contemplated it himself thoughtfully. "Well," he said,
"I rather thought that you might be able to explain that to me.
I have an idea that there is a society in Europe - sort of
aristocratic odd-fellows, you know - who had adopted it for their
crest. Am I not right?"
Felix looked at him steadfastly.
"Tell me two things," he said. "First, why you sent for me, and
secondly, what do you mean - by that?"
"Lucille," Mr. Sabin said, "has been taken away from me."
"Lucille! Great God!"
"She has been taken away from me," Mr. Sabin said, "without a single
word of warning."
Felix pointed to the menu card.
"By them?" he asked.
"By them. It was a month ago. Two days before my cable."
Felix was silent for several moments. He had not the self-command
of his companion, and he feared to trust himself to speech.
"She has been taken to Europe," Mr. Sabin continued. "I do not
know, I cannot even guess at the reason. She left no word. I have
been warned not to follow her."
"I sail to-morrow."
"And I?" Felix asked.
Mr. Sabin looked for, a moment at the drawing on the back of the
menu card, and up at Felix. Felix shook his head.
"You must know," he said, "that I am powerless."
"You may be able to help me," Mr. Sabin said, "without compromising
"Impossible!" Felix declared. "But what did they want with Lucille?"
"That," Mr. Sabin said, "is what I am desirous of knowing. It is
what I trust that you, my dear Felix, may assist me to discover."
"You are determined, then, to follow her?"
Mr. Sabin helped himself to a liqueur from the bottle by his side.
"My dear Felix," he said reproachfully, "you should know me better
than to ask me such a question."
Felix moved uneasily in his chair.
"Of course," he said, "it depends upon how much they want to keep
you apart. But you know that you are running great risks?"
"Why, no," Mr. Sabin said. "I scarcely thought that. I have
understood that the society was by no means in its former flourishing condition."
Felix laughed scornfully.
"They have never been," he answered, "richer or more powerful.
During the last twelve months they have been active in every part
Mr. Sabin's face hardened.
"Very well!" he said. "We will try their strength."
"We!" Felix laughed shortly. "You forget that my hands are tied.
I cannot help you or Lucille. You must know that."
"You cannot interfere directly," Mr. Sabin admitted. "Yet you are
Lucille's brother, and I am forced to appeal to you. If you will
be my companion for a little while I think I can show you how you
can help Lucille at any rate, and yet run no risk."
The little party at the next table were breaking up at last. Lady
Carey, pale and bored, with tired, swollen eyes - they were always
a little prominent - rose languidly and began to gather together
her belongings. As she did so she looked over the back of her chair
and met Mr. Sabin's eyes. He rose at once and bowed. She cast a
quick sidelong glance at her companions, which he at once understood.
"I have the honour, Lady Carey," he said, "of recalling myself to
your recollection. We met in Paris and London not so very many years
ago. You perhaps remember the cardinal's dinner?"
A slight smile flickered upon her lips. The man's adroitness always
excited her admiration.
"I remember it perfectly, and you, Duke," she answered. "Have you
made your home on this side of the water?"
Mr. Sabin shook his head slowly.
"Home!" he repeated. "Ah, I was always a bird of passage, you
remember. Yet I have spent three very delightful years in this
"And I," she said, lowering her tone and leaning towards him, "one
very stupid, idiotic day."
Mr. Sabin assumed the look of a man who denies any personal
responsibility in an unfortunate happening.
"It was regrettable," he murmured, "but I assure you that it was
unavoidable. Lucille's brother must have a certain claim upon me,
and it was his first day in America."
She was silent for a moment. Then she turned abruptly towards the
door. Her friends were already on the way.
"Come with me," she said. "I want to speak to you."
He followed her out into the lobby. Felix came a few paces behind.
The restaurant was still full of people, the hum of conversation
almost drowning the music. Every one glanced curiously at Lady
Carey, who was a famous woman. She carried herself with a certain
insolent indifference, the national deportment of her sex and rank.
The women whispered together that she was "very English."
In the lobby she turned suddenly upon Mr. Sabin.
"Will you take me back to my hotel?" she asked pointedly.
"I regret that I cannot," he answered. "I have promised to show
Felix some of the wonders of New York by night."
"You can take him to-morrow."
"To-morrow," Mr. Sabin said, "he leaves for the West."
She looked closely into his impassive face.
"I suppose that you are lying," she said shortly.
"Your candour," he answered coldly, "sometimes approaches brutality."
She leaned towards him, her face suddenly softened.
"We are playing a foolish game with one another," she murmured. "I
offer you an alliance, my friendship, perhaps my help."
"What can I do," he answered gravely, "save be grateful - and accept?"
"Then - "
She stopped short. It was Mr. Sabin's luck which had intervened.
Herbert Daikeith stood at her elbow.
"Lady Carey," he said, "they're all gone but the mater and I.
Forgive my interrupting you," he added hastily.
"You can go on, Herbert," she added. "The Duc de Souspennier will
Mr. Sabin, who had no intention of doing anything of the sort,
turned towards the young man with a smile.
"Lady Carey has not introduced us," he said, "but I have seen you
at Ranelagh quite often. If you are still keen on polo you should
have a try over here. I fancy you would find that these American
youngsters can hold their own. All right, Felix, I am ready now.
Lady Carey, I shall do myself the honour of waiting upon you early
to-morrow morning, as I have a little excursion to propose.
She shrugged her shoulders ever so slightly as she turned away. Mr.
Sabin smiled - faintly amused. He turned to Felix.
"Come," he said, "we have no time to lose."
I regret," Mr. Sabin said to Felix as they sat side by side in the
small coupe, "that your stay in this country will be so brief."
"Indeed," Felix answered. "May I ask what you call brief?"
Mr. Sabin looked out of the carriage window.
"We are already," he said, "on the way to England."
"This," he said, "is like old times."
Mr. Sabin smiled.
"The system of espionage here," he remarked, "is painfully primitive.
It lacks finesse and judgment. The fact that I have taken expensive
rooms on the Campania, and that I have sent many packages there,
that my own belongings are still in my rooms untouched, seems to our
friends conclusive evidence that I am going to attempt to leave
America by that boat. They have, I believe, a warrant for my arrest
on some ridiculous charge which they intend to present at the last
moment. They will not have the opportunity."
"But there is no other steamer sailing to-morrow, is there?" Felix
"Not from New York," Mr. Sabin answered, "but it was never my
intention to sail from New York. We are on our way to Boston now,
and we sail in the Saxonia at six o'clock to-morrow morning.
"We appear to be stopping at the Waldorf," Felix remarked.
"It is quite correct," Mr. Sabin answered. "Follow me through the
hall as quickly as possible. There is another carriage waiting at
the other entrance, and I expect to find in it Duson and my
They alighted and made their way though the crowded vestibules. At
the Thirty-fourth Street entrance a carriage was drawn up. Duson
was standing upon the pavement, his pale, nervous face whiter than
ever under the electric light. Mr. Sabin stopped short.
"Felix," he said, "one word. If by any chance things have gone
wrong they will not have made any arrangements to detain you. Catch
the midnight train to Boston and embark on the Saxonia. There will
be a cable for you at Liverpool. But the moment you leave me send
Felix nodded and put the crumpled-up piece of paper in his pocket.
The two men passed on. Duson took off his hat, but his fingers were
trembling. The carriage door was opened and a tall, spare man
"This is Mr. Sabin?" he remarked.
Mr. Sabin bowed.
"That is my name," he admitted, "by which I have been generally
called in this democratic country. What is your business with me?"
"I rather guess that you're my prisoner," the man answered. "If
you'll step right in here we can get away quietly."
"The suggestion," Mr. Sabin remarked, "sounds inviting, but I am
somewhat pressed for time. Might I inquire the nature of the charge
you have against me?"
"They'll tell you that at the office," the man answered. "Get in,
Mr. Sabin looked around for Felix, but he had disappeared. He took
out his cigarette-case.
"You will permit me first to light a cigarette," he remarked.
"All right! Only look sharp."
Mr. Sabin kept silence in the carriage. The drive was a long one.
When they descended he looked up at Duson, who sat upon the box.
"Duson," he said, and his voice, though low, was terrible, "I see
that I can be mistaken in men. You are a villain."
The man sprung to his feet, hat in hand. His face was wrung with
"Your Grace," he said, "it is true that I betrayed you. But I did
it without reward. I am a ruined man. I did it because the orders
which came to me were such as I dare not disobey. Here are your
keys, your Grace, and money."
Mr. Sabin looked at him steadily.
"You, too, Duson?"
"I too, alas, your Grace!"
Mr. Sabin considered for a moment.
"Duson," he said, "I retain you in my service. Take my luggage on
board the Campania to-morrow afternoon, and pay the bill at the
hotel. I shall join you on the boat."
Duson was amazed. The man who was standing by laughed.
"If you take my advice, sir," he remarked, "you'll order your
clothes to be sent here. I've a kind of fancy the Campania will
sail without you to-morrow."
"You have my orders, Duson," Mr. Sabin said. "You can rely upon
The detective led the way into the building, and opened the door
leading into a large, barely furnished office.
"Chief's gone home for the night, I guess," he remarked. "We can
fix up a shakedown for you in one of the rooms behind."
"I thank you," Mr. Sabin said, sitting down in a high-backed wooden
chair; "I decline to move until the charge against me is properly
"There is no one here to do it just now," the man answered. Better
make yourself comfortable for a bit."
"You detain me here, then," Mr. Sabin said, "without even a sight
of your warrant or any intimation as to the charge against me?"
"Oh, the chief'll fix all that," the man answered. "Don't you worry."
Mr. Sabin smiled.
In a magnificently furnished apartment somewhere in the neighbourhood
of Fifth Avenue a small party of men were seated round a card table
piled with chips and rolls of bills. On the sideboard there was a
great collection of empty bottles, spirit decanters and Vichy syphons.
Mr. Horser was helping himself to brandy and water with one hand and
holding himself up with the other. There was a knock at the door.
A man who was still playing looked up. He was about fifty years of
age, clean shaven, with vacuous eyes and a weak mouth. He was the
host of the party.
"Come in!" he shouted.
A young man entered in a long black overcoat and soft hat. He
looked about him without surprise, but he seemed to note Mr.
Horser's presence with some concern. The man at the table threw
down his cards.
"What the devil do you want, Smith?"
"An important despatch from Washington has just arrived, sir. I
have brought it up with the codebook."
"From Washington at this time of the night," he exclaimed thickly.
"Come in here, Smith."
He raised the curtains leading into a small anteroom, and turned
up the electric light. His clerk laid the message down on the
table before him.
"Here is the despatch, Mr. Mace," he said, "and here is the
"English Ambassador demands immediate explanation of arrest of
Duke Souspennier at Waldorf to-night. Reply immediately what
charge and evidence. Souspennier naturalised Englishman."
Mr. Mace sprang to his feet with an oath. He threw aside the
curtain which shielded the room from the larger apartment.
"Horser, come here, you damned fool!"
Horser, with a stream of magnificent invectives, obeyed the summons.
His host pointed to the message.
Mr. Horser read and his face grew even more repulsive. A dull
purple flush suffused his cheeks, his eyes were bloodshot, and the
veins on his forehead stood out like cords. He leaned for several
moments against the table and steadily cursed Mr. Sabin, the
government at Washington, and something under his breath which he
did not dare to name openly.
"Oh, shut up!" his host said at last. "How the devil are we going
to get out of this?"
Mr. Horser left the room and returned with a tumbler full of brandy
and a very little water.
"Take a drink yourself," he said. "It'll steady you.
"Oh, I'm steady enough," Mr. Mace replied impatiently. "I want to
know how you're going to get us out of this. What was the charge,
"Passing forged bills," Horser answered. "Parsons fixed it up."
Mr. Mace turned a shade paler.
"Where the devil's the sense in a charge like that?" he answered
fiercely. "The man's a millionaire. He'll turn the tables on us
"We've got to keep him till after the Campania sails, anyhow,"
Horser said doggedly.
"We're not going to keep him ten minutes," Mace replied. "I'm going
to sign the order for his release."
Horser's speech was thick with drunken fury. "By --- I'll see that
you don't!" he exclaimed.
Mace turned upon him angrily.
"You selfish fool!" he muttered. "You're not in the thing, anyhow.
If you think I'm going to risk my position for the sake of one
little job you're wrong. I shall go down myself and release him,
with an apology."
"He'll have his revenge all the same," Horser answered. "It's too
late now to funk the thing. They can't budge you. We'll see to
that. We hold New York in our hands. Be a man, Mace, and run a
little risk. It's fifty thousand."
Mace looked up at him curiously.
"What do you get out of it, Horser?"
Horser's face hardened.
"Not one cent!" he declared fiercely. "Only if I fail it might be
unpleasant for me next time I crossed."
"I don't know!" Mace declared weakly. "I don't know what to do.
It's twelve hours, Horser, and the charge is ridiculous."
"You have me behind you."
"I can't tell them that at Washington," Mace said.
"It's a fact, all the same. Don't be so damned nervous."
Mace dismissed his clerk, and found his other guests, too, on the
point of departure. But the last had scarcely left before a servant
entered with another despatch.
Mace handed it to his companion.
"This settles it," he declared. "I shall go round and try and make
my peace with the fellow."
Horser stood in the way, burly, half-drunk and vicious. He struck
his host in the face with clenched fist. Mace went down with
scarcely a groan. A servant, hearing the fall, came hurrying back.
"Your master is drunk and he has fallen down," Horser said. "Put
him to bed - give him a sleeping draught if you've got one."
The servant bent over the unconscious man.
"Hadn't I better fetch a doctor, sir?" he asked. "I'm afraid he's
"Not he!" Horser answered contemptuously. "He's cut his cheek a
little, that's all. Put him to bed. Say I shall be round again by
Horser put on his coat and left the house. The morning sunlight
was flooding the streets. Away down town Mr. Sabin was dozing in
his high-backed chair.
Felix, after an uneventful voyage, landed duly at Liverpool. To
his amazement the first person he saw upon the quay was Mr. Sabin,
leaning upon his stick and smoking a cigarette.
"Come, come, Felix!" he exclaimed. "Don't look at me as though I
were a ghost. You have very little confidence in me, after all, I
"But - how did you get here?"
"The Campania, of course. I had plenty of time. It was easy enough
for those fellows to arrest me, but they never had a chance of
"But how did you get away in time?"
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