The Yellow Crayon
E. Phillips Oppenheim
Part 5 out of 6
in the employ of our Secret Service Department. You will
understand, therefore, that we, knowing of this complication in
his life, naturally incline towards the theory of murder. Shall
I be taking a liberty, sir, if I give you an unprofessional word
Mr. Sabin raised his eyebrows.
"By no means," he answered. "But surely you cannot - "
The man smiled.
"No, sir," he said drily. "I do not for one moment suspect you.
The man was our spy upon your movements, but I am perfectly aware
that there has been nothing worth reporting, and I also know that
you would never run such a risk for the removal of so insignificant
a person. No, my warning comes to you from a different point of
view. It is, if you will pardon my saying so, none the less
personal, but wholly friendly. The case of Duson will be sifted to
the dregs, but unless I am greatly mistaken, and I do not see room
for the possibility of a mistake, I know the truth already."
"You will share your knowledge?" Mr. Sabin asked quietly.
The detective shook his head.
"You shall know," he said, "before the last moment. But I want to
warn you that when you do now it - it will be a shock to you."
Mr. Sabin stood perfectly still for several moments. This little
man believed what he was saying. He was certainly deceived. Yet
none the less Mr. Sabin was thoughtful.
"You do not feel inclined," he said slowly, "to give me your entire
"Not at present, sir," the man answered. "You would certainly
intervene, and my case would be spoilt."
Mr. Sabin glanced at the clock.
"If you care to call on me to-morrow," he said, "I could perhaps
show you something which might change your opinion."
The detective bowed.
"I am always open, sir," he said, "to conviction. I will come
about twelve o'clock."
Mr. Sabin went back to the palm lounge. Lucille and Reginald
Brott were sitting together at a small table, talking earnestly
to one another. The Prince and Lady Carey had joined another
party who were all talking together near the entrance. The latter,
directly she saw them coming, detached herself from them and came
"Your coffee is almost cold," she said, "but the Prince has found
some brandy of wonderful age, somewhere in the last century, I
Mr. Sabin glanced towards Lucille. She appeared engrossed in her
conversation, and had not noticed his approach. Lady Carey shrugged.
"You have only a few minutes," she said, "before that dreadful
person comes and frowns us all out. I have kept you a chair."
Mr. Sabin sat down. Lady Carey interposed herself between him and
the small table at which Lucille was sitting.
"Have they discovered anything?" she asked.
"Nothing!" Mr. Sabin answered.
She played with her fan for a moment. Then she looked him steadily
in the face.
He glanced towards her.
"Why are you so obstinate?" she exclaimed in a low, passionate
whisper. "I want to be your friend, and I could be very useful to
you. Yet you keep me always at arm's length. You are making a
mistake. Indeed you are. I suppose you do not trust me. Yet
reflect Have I ever told you anything that was not true? Have I
ever tried to deceive you? I don't pretend to be a paragon of the
virtues. I live my life to please myself. I admit it. Why not?
It is simply applying the same sort of philosophy to my life as
you have applied to yours. My enemies can find plenty to say about
me - but never that I have been false to a friend. Why do you keep
me always at arm's length, as though I were one of those who wished
"Lady Carey," Mr. Sabin said, "I will not affect to misunderstand
you, and I am flattered that you should consider my good will of
any importance. But you are the friend of the Prince of Saxe
Leinitzer. You are one of those even now who are working actively
against me. I am not blaming you, but we are on opposite sides."
Lady Carey looked for a moment across at the Prince, and her eyes
were full of venom.
"If you knew," she murmured, "how I loathe that man. Friends! That
is all long since past. Nothing would give me so much pleasure as
never to see his face again."
"Nevertheless," Mr. Sabin reminded her, "whatever your private
feelings may be, he has claims upon you which you cannot resist."
"There is one thing in the world," she said in a low tone, "for
which I would risk even the abnegation of those claims."
"You would perjure your honour?"
"Yes - if it came to that."
Mr. Sabin moved uneasily in his chair. The woman was in earnest.
She offered him an invaluable alliance; she could show him the way
to hold his own against even the inimical combination by which he
was surrounded. If only he could compromise. But her eyes were
seeking his eagerly, even fiercely.
"You doubt me still," she whispered. "And I thought that you had
genius. Listen, I will prove myself. The Prince has one of his
foolish passions for Lucille. You know that. So far she has shown
herself able to resist his fascinations. He is trying other means.
Lucille is in danger! Duson ! - but after all, I was never really
in danger, except the time when I carried the despatches for the
colonel and rode straight into a Boer ambush."
Mr. Sabin saw nothing, hut he did not move a muscle of his face. A
moment later they heard the Prince's voice from behind them.
"I am very sorry," he said, "to interrupt these interesting
reminiscences, but you see that every one is going. Lucille is
already in the cloak-room."
Lady Carey rose at once, but the glance she threw at the Prince was
a singularly malicious one. They walked down the carpeted way
together, and Lady Carey left them without a word. In the vestibule
Mr. Sabin and Reginald Brott came face to face.
The greeting between the two men was cold, and the Prince almost
immediately stepped between them. Nevertheless, Brott seemed
to have a fancy to talk with Mr. Sabin.
"I was at Camperdown House yesterday," he remarked. "Her Ladyship
was regretting that she saw you so seldom."
"I have been a little remiss," Mr. Sabin answered. "I hope to lunch
"You have seen the evening paper, Brott?" the Prince asked.
"I saw the early editions," Brott answered. "Is there anything
The Prince dropped his voice a little. He drew Brott on one side.
"The Westminster declared that you had left for Windsor by an early
train this afternoon, and gives a list of your Cabinet. The Pall
Mall, on the other hand, declares that Letheringham will assuredly
be sent for to-morrow."
Brott shrugged his shoulders.
"There are bound to be a crop of such reports at a time like this,"
The Prince dropped his voice almost to a whisper.
"Brott," he said, "there is something which I have had it in my
mind to say to you for the last few days. I am not perhaps a great
politician, but, like many outsiders, I see perhaps a good deal of
the game. I know fairly well what the feeling is in Vienna and
Berlin. I can give you a word of advice."
"You are very kind, Prince," Brott remarked, looking uneasily over
his shoulder. "But - "
"It is concerning Brand. There is no man more despised and disliked
abroad, not only because he is a Jew and ill-bred, but because of
his known sympathy with some of these anarchists who are perfect
firebrands in Europe."
"I am exceedingly obliged to you," Brott answered hurriedly. "I am
afraid, however, that you anticipate matters a good deal. I have
not yet been asked to form a Cabinet. It is doubtful whether I ever
shall. And, beyond that, it is also doubtful whether even if I am
asked I shall accept."
"I must confess," the Prince said, "that you puzzle me. Every one
says that the Premiership of the country is within your reach. It
is surely the Mecca of all politicians."
"There are complications," Brott muttered. "You - "
He stopped short and moved towards the door. Lucille, unusually
pale and grave, had just issued from the ladies' ante-room, and
joined Lady Carey, who was talking to Mr. Sabin. She touched the
latter lightly on the arm.
"Help us to escape," she said quickly. "I am weary of my task.
Can we get away without their seeing us?"
Mr. Sabin offered his arm. They passed along the broad way, and
as they were almost the last to leave the place, their carriage
was easily found. The Prince and Mr. Brott appeared only in time
to see Mr. Sabin turning away, hat in hand, from the curb-stone.
Brott's face darkened.
"Prince," he said, "who is that man?"
The Prince shrugged his shoulders.
"A man," he said, "who has more than once nearly ruined your
country. His life has been a splendid failure. He would have
given India to the Russians, but they mistrusted him and trifled
away their chance. Once since then he nearly sold this country
to Germany; it was a trifle only which intervened. He has been
all his life devoted to one cause."
"And that?" Brott asked.
"The restoration of the monarchy to France. He, as you of course
know, is the Duc de Souspennier, the sole living member in the
direct line of one of the most ancient and historical houses in
England. My friend," he added, turning to Mr. Sabin, "you have
stolen a march upon us. We had not even an opportunity of making
our adieux to the ladies."
"I imagine," Mr. Sabin answered, "that the cause of quarrel may
rest with them. You were nowhere in sight when they came out."
"These fascinating politics," the Prince remarked. "We all want
to talk politics to Mr. Brott just now."
"I will wish you good-night, gentlemen," Mr. Sabin said, and passed
into the hotel.
The Prince touched Brott on the arm.
"Will you come round to the club, and take a hand at bridge?" he said.
Brott laughed shortly.
"I imagine," he said, "that I should be an embarrassing guest to
you just now at, say the Mallborough, or even at the St. James.
I believe the aristocracy are looking forward to the possibility of
my coming into power with something like terror."
"I am not thoroughly versed; in the politics of this country," the
Prince said, "but I have always understood that your views were
very much advanced. Dorset solemnly believes that you are pledged
to exterminate the large landed proprietors, and I do not think he
would be surprised to hear that you had a guillotine up your sleeve."
The two men were strolling along Pall Mall. The Prince had lit a
large cigar, and was apparently on the best of terms with himself
and the world in general. Brott, on the contrary, was most unlike
himself, preoccupied, and apparently ill at ease.
"The Duke and his class are, of course, my natural opponents," Brott
said shortly. "By the bye, Prince," he added, suddenly turning
towards him, and with a complete change of tone, "it is within your
power to do me a favour."
"You have only to command," the Prince assured him good-naturedly.
"My rooms are close here," Brott continued. "Will you accompany
me there, and grant me the favour of a few minutes' conversation?"
"Assuredly!" the Prince answered, flicking the end off his cigar.
"It will be a pleasure."
They walked on towards their destination in silence. Brott's
secretary was in the library with a huge pile of letters and
telegrams before him. He welcomed Brott with relief.
"We have been sending all over London for you, sir," he said.
"I am better out of the way for the present," he answered. "Deny
me to everybody for an hour, especially Letheringham. There is
nothing here, I suppose, which cannot wait so long as that?"
The secretary looked a little doubtful.
"I think not, sir," he decided.
"Very good. Go and get something to eat. You look fagged. And
tell Hyson to bring up some liqueurs, will you! I shall be engaged
for a short time."
The secretary withdrew. A servant appeared with a little tray of
liqueurs, and in obedience to an impatient gesture from his master,
left them upon the table. Brott closed the door firmly.
"Prince," he said, resuming his seat, "I wished to speak with you
concerning the Countess."
Saxe Leinitzer nodded.
"All right," he said. "I am listening!"
"I understand," Brott continued, "that you are one of her oldest
friends, and also one of the trustees of her estates. I presume
that you stand to her therefore to some extent in the position of
"It is perfectly true," the Prince admitted.
"I, too, am an old friend, as she has doubtless told you," Brott
said. "All my life she has been the one woman whom I have desired
to call my wife. That desire has never been so strong as at the
The Prince removed his cigar from his mouth and looked grave.
"But, my dear Brott," he said, "have you considered the enormous
gulf between your - views? The Countess owns great hereditary
estates, she comes from a family which is almost Royal, she herself
is an aristocrat to the backbone. It is a class against which you
have declared war. How can you possibly come together on common
Brott was silent for a moment. Looking at him steadily the Prince
was surprised at the change in the man's appearance. His cheeks
seemed blanched and his skin drawn. He had lost flesh, his eyes
were hollow, and he frequently betrayed in small mannerisms a
nervousness wholly new and unfamiliar to him.
"You speak as a man of sense, Prince," he said after a while. "You
are absolutely correct. This matter has caused me a great deal of
anxious thought. To falter at this moment is to lose, politically,
all that I have worked for all my life. It is to lose the confidence
of the people who have trusted me. It is a betrayal, the thought of
which is a constant shame to me. But, on the other hand, Lucille
is the dearest thing to me in life."
The Prince's expression was wholly sympathetic. The derision which
lurked behind he kept wholly concealed. A strong man so abjectly
in the toils, and he to be chosen for his confidant! It was
melodrama with a dash of humour.
"If I am to help you," the Prince said, "I must know everything.
Have you made any proposals to Lucille? In plain words, how much
of your political future are you disposed to sacrifice?"
"All!" Brott said hoarsely. "All for a certainty of her. Not
one jot without."
Brott sprang to his feet, white and nervous.
"It is where I am at fault," he exclaimed. "It is why I have asked
for your advice, your help perhaps. I do not find it easy to
understand Lucille. Perhaps it is because I am not well versed in
the ways of her sex. I find her elusive. She will give me no
promise. Before I went to Glasgow I talked with her. If she
would have married me then my political career was over - thrown on
one side like an old garment. But she would give me no promise.
In everything save the spoken words I crave she has promised me her
love. Again there comes a climax. In a few hours I must make my
final choice. I must decline to join Letheringham, in which case
the King must send for me, or accept office with him, and throw away
the one great chance of this generation. Letheringham's Cabinet,
of course, would be a moderate Liberal one, a paragon of milk and
water in effectiveness. If I go in alone we make history. The
moment of issue has come. And, Prince, although I have pleaded
with all the force and all the earnestness I know, Lucille remains
elusive. If I choose for her side - she promises me - reward. But
it is vague to me. I don't, I can't understand! I want her for my
wife, I want her for the rest of my life - nothing else. Tell me,
is there any barrier to this? There are no complications in her
life which I do not know of? I want your assurance. I want her
promise. You understand me?"
"Yes, I understand you," the Prince said gravely. "I understand
more than you do. I understand Lucille's position."
Brott leaned forward with bright eyes.
"Lucille, the Countess of Radantz, is at the present moment a
Brott was speechless. His face was like a carved stone image,
from which the life had wholly gone.
"Her husband - in name only, let me tell you, is the Mr. Sabin
with whom we had supper this evening."
"Their marriage had strange features in it which are not my concern,
or even yours," the Prince said deliberately. "The truth is, that
they have not lived together for years, they never will again, for
their divorce proceedings would long ago have been concluded but
for the complications arising from the difference between the
Hungarian and the American laws. Here, without doubt, is the reason
why the Countess has hesitated to pledge her word directly."
"It is wonderful," Brott said slowly. "But it explains everything."
There was a loud knock at the door. The secretary appeared upon
the threshold. Behind him was a tall, slim young man in traveling
"The King's messenger!" Brott exclaimed, rising to his feet.
The Prince presented himself with a low bow. Lucille had a copy
of the morning paper in her hand.
"I congratulate you, Countess," he said. "You progress admirably.
It is a great step gained."
Lucille, who was looking pale and nervous, regarded him with anxiety.
"A step! But it is everything. If these rumours are true, he
refuses the attempt to form a Cabinet. He takes a subordinate
position under Letheringham. Every paper this morning says that if
this is so his political career is over. It is true, is it not?"
"It is a great gain," the Prince said slowly.
"But it is everything," Lucille declared, with a rising note of
passion in her tone. "It was my task. It is accomplished. I
demand my release."
The Prince was silent for a moment.
"You are in a great hurry, Lucille," he said.
"What if I am!" she replied fiercely. "Do you suppose that this
life of lies and deceit is pleasant to me? Do you suppose that it
is a pleasant task to lure a brave man on to his ruin?"
The Prince raised his eyebrows.
"Come," he said, "you can have no sympathy with Reginald Brott, the
sworn enemy of our class, a Socialist, a demagogue who would parcel
out our lands in allotments, a man who has pledged himself to nothing
more nor less than a revolution."
"The man's views are hateful enough," she answered, "but he is in
earnest, and however misguided he may be there is something noble in
his unselfishness, in his, steady fixedness of purpose."
The Prince's face indicated his contempt.
"Such men," he declared, "are only fit to be crushed like vermin
under foot. In any other country save England we should have dealt
with him differently."
"This is all beside the question," she declared, "My task was to
prevent his becoming Prime Minister, and I have succeeded."
The Prince gave vent to a little gesture of dissent. "Your task,"
he said, "went a little farther than that. We require his political
She pointed to the pile of newspapers upon the table.
"Read what they say!" she exclaimed. "There is not one who does
not use that precise term. He has missed his opportunity. The
people will never trust him again."
"That, at any rate, is not certain," the Prince said. "You must
remember that before long he will realise that he has been your
tool. What then? He will become more rabid than ever, more also
to be feared. No, Lucille, your task is not yet over. He must be
involved in an open and public scandal, and with you."
She was white almost to the lips with passion.
"You expect a great deal!" she exclaimed. "You expect me to ruin
my life, then, to give my honour as well as these weary months,
this constant humiliation."
"You are pleased to be melodramatic," he said coldly. "It is quite
possible to involve him without actually going to extremes."
"And what of my husband?" she asked.
'The Prince laughed unpleasantly.
"If you have not taught him complaisance," he said, "it is possible,
of course, that Mr. Sabin might be unkind. But what of it? You
are your own mistress. You are a woman of the world. Without him
there is an infinitely greater future before you than as his wife
you could ever enjoy."
"You are pleased," she said, "to be enigmatic."
The Prince looked hard at her. Her face was white and set. He
"Lucille," he said, "I have been very patient for many years. Yet
you know very well my secret, and in your heart you know very well
that I am one of those who generally win the thing upon which they
have set their hearts. I have always loved you, Lucille, but
nevermore than now. Fidelity is admirable, but surely you have done
your duty. He is an old man, and a man who has failed in the great
things of life. I, on the other hand, can offer you a great future.
Saxe Leinitzer, as you know, is a kingdom of its own, and, Lucille,
I stand well with the Emperor. The Socialist party in Berlin are
strong and increasing. He needs us. Who can say what honours may
not be in store for us? For I, too, am of the Royal House, Lucille.
I am his kinsman. He never forgets that. Come, throw aside this
restlessness. I will tell you how to deal with Brott, and the
publicity, after all, will be nothing. We will go abroad directly
"Have you finished?" she asked.
"You will be reasonable!" he begged.
"Reasonable!" She turned upon him with flashing eyes. "I wonder
how you ever dared to imagine that I could tolerate you for one
moment as a lover or a husband. Wipe it out of your mind once and
for all. You are repellent to me. Positively the only wish I have
in connection with you is never to see your face again. As for my
duty, I have done it. My conscience is clear. I shall leave this
"I hope," the Prince said softly, "that you will do nothing rash!"
"In an hour," she said, "I shall be at the Carlton with my husband.
I will trust to him to protect me from you."
The Prince shook his head.
"You talk rashly," he said. "You do not think. You are forbidden
to leave this house. You are forbidden to join your husband."
She laughed scornfully, but underneath was a tremor of uneasiness.
"You summoned me from America," she said, "and I came ... I was
forced to leave my husband without even a word of farewell. I did
it! You set me a task - I have accomplished it. I claim that I
have kept my bond, that I have worked out my own freedom. If you
require more of me, I say that you are overstepping your authority,
and I refuse. Set the black cross against my name if you will. I
will take the risk."
The Prince came a little nearer to her. She held her own bravely
enough, but there was a look in his face which terrified her.
"Lucille," he said, "you force me to disclose something which I
have kept so far to myself. I wished to spare you anxiety, but
you must understand that your safety depends upon your remaining
in this house, and in keeping apart from all association with
- your husband."
"You will find it difficult," she said, "to convince me of that."
"On the contrary," he said, "I shall find it easy - too easy,
believe me. You will remember my finding you at the wine-shop of
"You refused to tell me the object of your visit. It was foolish,
for of course I was informed. You procured from Emil a small
quantity of the powder prepared according to the recipe of Herr
Estentrauzen, and for which we paid him ten thousand marks. It is
the most silent, the most secret, the most swift poison yet
"I got it for myself," she said coldly. "There have been times
when I have felt that the possession of something of that sort was
an absolute necessity;"
"I do not question you as to the reason for your getting it," he
answered. "Very shortly afterwards you left your carriage in Pall
Mall, and without even asking for your husband you called at his
hotel - you stole up into his room."
"I took some roses there and left them," she said "What of that?"
"Only that you were the last person seen to enter Mr. Sabin's rooms
before Duson was found there dead. And Duson died from a dose of
that same poison, a packet of which you procured secretly from Emil
Sachs. An empty wineglass was by his side - it was one generally
used by Mr. Sabin. I know that the English police, who are not so
foolish as people would have one believe, are searching now for the
woman who was seen to enter the sitting-room shortly before Mr.
Sabin returned and found Duson there dead."
She laughed scornfully.
"It is ingenious," she admitted, "and perhaps a little unfortunate
for me. But the inference is ridiculous. What interest had I in
the man's death?"
"None, of course!" the Prince said. "But, Lucille, in all cases
of poisoning it is the wife of whom one first thinks!"
"The wife? I did not even know that the creature had a wife."
"Of course not! But Duson drank from Mr. Sabin's glass, and you
are Mr. Sabin's wife. You are living apart from him. He is old
and you are young. And for the other man - there is Reginald Brott.
Your names have been coupled together, of course. See what an
excellent case stands there. You procure the poison - secretly.
You make your way to your husband's room - secretly. The fatal
dose is taken from your husband's Wineglass. You leave no note,
no message. The poison of which the man died is exactly the same
as you procured from Sachs. Lucille, after all, do you wonder that
the police are looking for a woman in black with an ermine toque?
What a mercy you wore a thick veil!"
She sat down suddenly.
"This is hideous," she said.
"Think it over," he said, "step by step. It is wonderful how all
the incidents dovetail into one another."
"Too wonderful," she cried. "It sounds like some vile plot to
incriminate me. How much had you to do with this, Prince?"
"Don't be a fool!" he answered roughly. "Can't you see for yourself
that your arrest would be the most terrible thing that could happen
for us? Even Sachs might break down in cross-examination, and you
- well, you are a woman, and you want to live. We should all be
in the most deadly peril. Lucille, I would have spared you this
anxiety if I could, but your defiance made it necessary. There was
no other way of getting you away from England to-night except by
telling you the truth."
"Away from England to-night," she repeated vaguely. "But I will
not go. It is impossible."
"It is imperative," the Prince declared, with a sharp ring of
authority in his tone. "It is your own folly, for which you have
to pay. You went secretly to Emil Sachs. You paid surreptitious
visits to your husband, which were simply madness. You have
involved us all in danger. For our own sakes we must see that
you are removed."
"It is the very thing to excite suspicion - flight abroad," she
"Your flight," he said coolly, "will be looked upon from a different
point of view, for Reginald Brott must follow you. It will be an
elopement, not a flight from justice."
"And in case I should decline?" Lucille asked quietly.
The Prince shrugged his shoulders.
"Well, we have done the best we can for ourselves," he said. "Come,
I will be frank with you. There are great interests involved here,
and, before all things, I have had to consider the welfare of our
friends. That is my duty! Emil Sachs by this time is beyond risk
of detection. He has left behind a letter, in which he confesses
that he has for some time supplemented the profits of his wine-shop
by selling secretly certain deadly poisons of his own concoctions.
Alarmed at reading of the death of Duson immediately after he had
sold a poison which the symptoms denoted he had fled the country.
That letter is in the hands of the woman who remains in the
wine-shop, and will only be used in case of necessity. By other
means we have dissociated ourselves from Duson and all connection
with him. I think I could go so far as to say that it would be
impossible to implicate us. Our sole anxiety now, therefore, is to
Lucille rose to her feet.
"I shall go at once to my husband," she said. "I shall tell him
everything. I shall act on his advice."
The Prince stood over by the door, and she heard the key turn.
"You will do nothing of the sort," he said quietly. "You are in
my power at last, Lucille. You will do my bidding, or - "
"I shall myself send for the police and give you into custody!"
The Prince crossed the hail and entered the morning-room. Felix
was there and Raoul de Brouillac. The Duchess sat at her
writing-table, scribbling a note. Lady Carey, in a wonderful white
serge costume, and a huge bunch of Neapolitan violets at her bosom,
was lounging in an easy-chair, swinging her foot backwards and
forwards. The Duke, in a very old tweed coat, but immaculate as to
linen and the details of his toilet, stood a little apart, with a
frown upon his forehead, and exactly that absorbed air which in the
House of Lords usually indicated his intention to make a speech. The
entrance of the Prince, who carefully closed the door behind him,
was an event for which evidently they were all waiting.
"My good people," he said blandly, "I wish you all a very
There was a little murmur of greetings, and before they had all
subsided the Duke spoke.
"Saxe Leinitzer," he said, "I have a few questions to ask you."
The Prince looked across the room at him.
"By all means, Duke," he said. "But is the present an opportune
"Opportune or no, it is the time which I have selected," the Duke
answered stiffly. "I do not altogether understand what is going
on in this house. I am beginning to wonder whether I have been
The Prince, as he twirled his fair moustache, glanced carelessly
enough across at the Duchess. She was looking the other way.
"I became a - er - general member of this Society," the Duke
continued, "sympathising heartily with its objects as explained to
me by you, Prince, and believing, although to confess it is somewhat
of a humiliation, that a certain amount of - er - combination
amongst the aristocracy has become necessary to resist the terrible
increase of Socialism which we must all so much deplore."
"You are not making a speech, dear," the Duchess remarked, looking
coldly across the room at him. "We are all anxious to hear what
the Prince has to say to us."
"Your anxiety," the Duke continued, "and the anxiety of our friends
must be restrained for a few minutes, for there are certain things
which I am determined to say, and to say them now. I must confess
that it was at first a painful shock to me to realise that the time
had come when it was necessary for us to take any heed of the
uneducated rabble who seem born into the world discontented with
their station in life, and instead of making honest attempts to
improve it waste their time railing against us who are more
fortunately placed, and in endeavours to mislead in every possible
way the electorate of the country."
The Prince sighed softly, and lit a cigarette. Lady Carey and
Felix were already smoking.
"However," the Duke continued, "I was convinced. I have always
believed in the principle of watching closely the various signs
of the times, and I may say that I came to the conclusion that a
combination of the thinking members of the aristocratic party
throughout the world was an excellent idea. I therefore became
what is, I believe, called a general member of the Order, of
which I believe you, Prince, are the actual head."
"My dear James," the Duchess murmured, "the Prince has something
to say to us."
"The Prince," her husband answered coldly, "can keep back his
information for a few minutes. I am determined to place my position
clearly before all of you who are present here now. It is only
since I have joined this Society that I have been made aware that
in addition to the general members, of which body I believe that
the Duchess and I are the sole representatives here, there are
special members, and members of the inner circle. And I understand
that in connection with these there is a great machinery of intrigue
going on all the time, with branches all over the world, spies
everywhere with unlimited funds, and with huge opportunities of
good or evil. In effect I have become an outside member of what is
nothing more nor less than a very powerful and, it seems to me,
daring secret society."
"So far as you are concerned, Duke," the Prince said, "your
responsibility ceases with ordinary membership. You can take no
count of anything beyond. The time may come when the inner circle
may be opened to you."
The Duke coughed.
"You misapprehend me," he said. "I can assure you I am not anxious
for promotion. On the contrary, I stand before you an aggrieved
person. I have come to the conclusion that my house, and the
shelter of my wife's name, have been used for a plot, the main
points of which have been kept wholly secret from me."
The Prince flicked his cigarette ash into the grate.
"My dear Dorset," he said gently, "if you will allow me to explain -"
"I thank you, Saxe Leinitzer," the Duke said coldly, "but it is
beginning to occur to me that I have had enough of your explanations.
It seemed natural enough to me, and I must say well conceived, that
some attempt should be made to modify the views of, if not wholly
convert, Reginald Brott by means of the influence of a very charming
woman. It was my duty as a member of the Order to assist in this,
and the shelter of my house and name were freely accorded to the
Countess. But it is news to me to find that she was brought here
practically by force. That because she was an inner member and
therefore bound to implicit obedience that she was dragged away from
her husband, kept apart from him against her will, forced into
endeavours to make a fool of Brott even at the cost of her good name.
And now, worst of all, I am told that a very deeply laid plot on
the part of some of you will compel her to leave England almost at
once, and that her safety depends upon her inducing Reginald Brott
to accompany her."
"She has appealed to you," the Prince muttered.
"She has done nothing so sensible," the Duke answered drily. "The
facts which I have just stated are known to every one in this room.
I perhaps know less than any one. But I know enough for this. I
request, Saxe Leinitzer, that you withdraw the name of myself and
my wife from your list of members, and that you understand clearly
that my house is to be no more used for meetings of the Society,
formal or informal. And, further, though I regret the apparent
inhospitality of my action, my finger is now, as you see, upon the
bell, and I venture to wish you all a very good-morning. Groves,"
he added to the servant who answered the door, "the Prince of Saxe
Leinitzer's carriage is urgently required."
The Prince and Lady Carey descended the broad steps side by side.
She was laughing softly but immoderately. The Prince was pale
"Pompous old ass," he muttered savagely. "He may have a worse
scandal in his house now than he dreams of."
She wiped her eyes.
"Have I not always told you," she said, "that intrigue in this
country was a sheer impossibility? You may lay your plans ever so
carefully, but you cannot foresee such a contretemps as this."
"Idiot!" the Prince cried, "Oh, the dolt! Why, even his wife was
"He may be all those pleasant things," Lady Carey, said, "but he
is a gentleman."
He stopped short. The footman was standing by the side of Lady
Carey's victoria with a rug on his arm.
"Lucille," he said thoughtfully, "is locked in the morning-room.
She is prostrate with fear. If the Duke sees her everything is
over. Upon my word, I have a good mind to throw this all up and
cross to Paris to-night. Let England breed her own revolutions.
What do you say, Muriel? Will you come with me?"
She laughed scornfully.
"I'd as soon go with my coachman," she said.
His eyebrows narrowed. A dull, purple flush crept to his forehead.
"Your wit," he said, "is a little coarse. Listen! You wish our
first plan to go through?"
"Then you must get Lucille out of that house. If she is left there
she is absolutely lost to us. Apart from that, she is herself not
safe. Our plan worked out too well. She is really in danger from
this Duson affair."
The laughter died away from Lady Carey's face. She hesitated with
her foot upon the step of her carriage.
"You can go back easily enough," the Prince said. "You are the
Duke's cousin, and you were not included in his tirade. Lucille is
in the morning-room, and here is the key. I brought it away with me.
You must tell her that all our plans are broken, that we have
certain knowledge that the police are on the track of this Duson
affair. Get her to your house in Pont Street, and I will be round
this afternoon. Or better still, take her to mine."
Lady Carey stepped back on to the pavement. She was still, however,
"Leave her with the Duke and Duchess," the Prince said, "and she will
dine with her husband to-night."
Lady Carey took the key from his hand.
"I will try," she said. "How shall you know whether I succeed?"
"I will wait in the gardens," he answered. "I shall be out of sight,
but I shall be able to see you come out. If you are alone I shall
come to you. If she is with you I shall be at your house in an
hour, and I promise you that she shall leave England to-night with
"Poor Brott!" she murmured ironically.
The Prince smiled.
"He will follow her. Every one will believe that they left London
together. That is all that is required."
Lady Carey re-entered the house. The Prince made his way into the
gardens. Ten minutes passed - a quarter of an hour. Then Lady Carey
with Lucille reappeared, and stepping quickly into the victoria were
driven away. The Prince drew a little sigh of relief. He looked at
his watch, called a hansom, and drove to his club for lunch.
Another man, who had also been watching Dorset Rouse from the
gardens for several hours, also noted Lucille's advent with relief.
He followed the Prince out and entered another hansom.
"Follow that victoria which has just driven off," he ordered.
"Don't lose sight of it. Double fare."
The trap-door fell, and the man whipped up his horse.
Mr. Sabin received an early visitor whilst still lingering over
a slight but elegant breakfast. Passmore seated himself in an
easy-chair and accepted the cigar which his host himself selected
"I am glad to see you," Mr. Sabin said. "This affair of Duson's
remains a complete mystery to me. I am looking to you to help me
The little man with the imperturbable face removed his cigar from
his mouth and contemplated it steadfastly.
"It is mysterious," he said. "There are circumstances in connection
with it which even now puzzle me very much, very much indeed. There
are circumstances in connection with it also which I fear may be a
shock to you, sir."
"My life," Mr. Sabin said, with a faint smile, "has been made up of
shocks. A few more or less may not hurt me."
"Duson," the detective said, "was at heart a faithful servant!"
"I believe it," Mr. Sabin said.
"He was much attached to you!"
"I believe it."
"It is possible that unwittingly he died for you."
Mr. Sabin was silent. It was his way of avoiding a confession of
surprise. And he was surprised. "You believe then," he said,
"after a moment's pause, "that the poison was intended for me?"
"Certainly I do," the detective answered. "Duson was, after all,
a valet, a person of little importance. There is no one to whom
his removal could have been of sufficient importance to justify
such extreme measures. With you it is different."
Mr. Sabin knocked the ash from his cigarette.
"Why not be frank with me, Mr. Passmore?" he said. "There is no
need to shelter yourself under professional reticence. Your
connection with Scotland Yard ended, I believe, some time ago. You
are free to speak or to keep silence. Do one or the other. Tell me
what you think, and I will tell you what I know. That surely will
be a fair exchange. You shall have my facts for your surmises."
Passmore's thin lips curled into a smile. "You know that I have
left Scotland Yard then, sir?"
"Quite well! You are employed by them often, I believe, but you
are not on the staff, not since the affair of Nerman and the code
If Passmore had been capable of reverence, his eyes looked it at
"You knew this last night, sir?"
"Five years ago, sir," he said, "I told my chief that in you the
detective police of the world had lost one who must have been their
king. More and more you convince me of it. I cannot believe that
you are ignorant of the salient points concerning Duson's death."
"Treat me as being so, at any rate," Mr. Sabin said.
"I am pardoned," Passmore said, "for speaking plainly of family
matters - my concern in which is of course purely professional?"
Mr. Sabin looked up for a moment, but he signified his assent.
"You left America," Passmore said, "in search of your wife, formerly
Countess of Radantz, who had left you unexpectedly."
"It is true!" Mr. Sabin answered.
"Madame la Duchesse on reaching London became the guest of the
Duchess of Dorset, where she has been staying since. Whilst there
she has received many visits from Mr. Reginald Brott."
Mr. Sabin's face was as the face of a sphinx. He made no sign.
"You do not waste your time, sir, over the Society papers. Yet you
have probably heard that Madame la Duchesse and Mr. Reginald Brott
have been written about and spoken about as intimate friends. They
have been seen together everywhere. Gossip has been busy with their
names. Mr. Brott has followed the Countess into circles which
before her coming he zealously eschewed. The Countess is everywhere
regarded as a widow, and a marriage has been confidently spoken of."
Mr. Sabin bowed his head slightly. But of expression there was in
his face no sign.
"These things," Passmore continued, "are common knowledge. I have
spoken up to now of nothing which is not known to the world. I
"Good!" Mr. Sabin said.
"There is," Passmore continued, "in the foreign district of London
a man named Emil Sachs, who keeps a curious sort of a wine-shop, and
supplements his earnings by disposing at a high figure of certain
rare and deadly poisons. A few days ago the Countess visited him
and secured a small packet of the most deadly drug the man possesses."
Mr. Sabin sat quite still. He was unmoved.
"The Countess," Passmore continued, "shortly afterwards visited
these rooms. An hour after her departure Duson was dead. He died
from drinking out of your liqueur glass, into which a few specks
of that powder, invisible almost to the naked eye, had been dropped.
At Dorset House Reginald Brott was waiting for her. He left shortly
afterwards in a state of agitation."
"And from these things," Mr. Sabin said, "you draw, I presume, the
natural inference that Madame la Duchesse, desiring to marry her
old admirer, Reginald Brott, first left me in America, and then,
since I followed her here, attempted to poison me
"There is," Passmore said, "a good deal of evidence to that effect."
"Here," Mr. Sabin said, handing him Duson's letter, "is some
evidence to the contrary."
Passmore read the letter carefully.
"You believe this," he asked, "to be genuine?"
Mr. Sabin smiled.
"I am sure of it!" he answered.
"You recognise the handwriting?"
"And this came into your possession - how?"
"I found it on the table by Duson's side."
"You intend to produce it at the inquest?"
"I think not," Mr. Sabin answered.
There was a short silence. Passmore was revolving a certain matter
in his mind - thinking hard. Mr. Sabin was apparently trying to
make rings of the blue smoke from his cigarette.
"Has it occurred to you," Passmore asked, "to wonder for what reason
your wife visited these rooms on the morning of Duson's death?"
Mr. Sabin shook his head.
"I cannot say that it has."
"She knew that you were not here," Passmore continued. "She left
no message. She came closely veiled and departed unrecognised."
Mr. Sabin nodded.
"There were reasons," he said, "for that. But when you say that
she left no message you are mistaken."
"Go on," he said.
Mr. Sabin nodded towards a great vase of La France roses upon a
"I found these here on my return," he said, "and attached to them
the card which I believe is still there. Go and look at it."
Passmore rose and bent over the fragrant blossoms. The card still
remained, and on the back of it, in a delicate feminine handwriting:
"For my husband,
"with love from
Mr. Passmore shrugged his shoulders. He had not the vice of
obstinacy, and he knew when to abandon a theory.
"I am corrected," he said. "In any case, a mystery remains as well
worth solving. Who are these people at whose instigation Duson was
to have murdered you - these people whom Duson feared so much that
suicide was his only alternative to obeying their behests?"
Mr. Sabin smiled faintly.
"Ah, my dear Passmore," he said, "you must not ask me that question.
I can only answer you in this way. If you wish to make the biggest
sensation which has ever been created in the criminal world, to
render yourself immortal, and your fame imperishable - find out! I
may not help you, I doubt whether you will find any to help you. But
if you want excitement, the excitement of a dangerous chase after
a tremendous quarry, take your life in your hands, go in and win.
Passmore's withered little face lit up with a gleam of rare
"These are your enemies, sir," he said. "They have attempted your
life once, they may do it again. Assume the offensive yourself.
Give me a hint."
Mr. Sabin shook his head.
"That I cannot do," he said. "I have saved you from wasting your
time on a false scent. I have given you something definite to work
upon. Further than that I can do nothing."
Passmore looked his disappointment, but he knew Mr. Sabin better
than to argue the matter.
"You will not even produce that letter at the inquest?" he asked.
"Not even that," Mr. Sabin answered.
Passmore rose to his feet.
"You must remember," he said, "that supposing any one else stumbles
upon the same trail as I have been pursuing, and suspicion is
afterwards directed towards madame, your not producing that letter
at the inquest will make it useless as evidence in her favour."
"I have considered all these things," Mr. Sabin said. "I shall
deposit the letter in a safe place. But its use will never be
necessary. You are the only man who might have forced me to produce
it, and you know the truth."
Passmore rose reluctantly.
"I want you," Mr. Sabin said, "to leave me not only your address,
but the means of finding you at any moment during the next
four-and-twenty hours. I may have some important work for you."
The man smiled as he tore leaf from his pocketbook and a made a
"I shall be glad to take any commission from you, sir," he said.
"To tell you the truth, I scarcely thought that you would be content
to sit down and wait."
Mr. Sabin smiled.
"I think," he said, "that very shortly I can find you plenty to do."
Mr. Sabin a few minutes afterwards ordered his carriage, and was
driven to Dorset House. He asked for Lucille, but was shown at once
into the library, where the Duke was awaiting him. Then Mr. Sabin
knew that something had happened.
The Duke extended his hand solemnly.
"My dear Souspennier," he said, "I am glad to see you. I was in
fact on the point of despatching a messenger to your hotel."
"I am glad," Mr. Sabin remarked, "that my visit is opportune. To
tell you the truth, Duke, I am anxious to see my wife."
The Duke coughed.
"I trust," he said, "that you will not for a moment consider me
guilty of any discourtesy to the Countess, for whom I have a great
respect and liking. But it has come to my knowledge that the
shelter of my roof and name were being given to proceedings of which
I heartily disapproved. I therefore only a few hours ago formally
broke off all connection with Saxe Leinitzer and his friends, and to
put the matter plainly, I expelled them from the house."
"I congratulate you heartily, Duke, upon a most sensible proceeding,"
Mr. Sabin said. "But in the meantime where is my wife?"
"Your wife was not present at the time," the Duke answered, "and I
had not the slightest intention of including her in the remarks I
made. Whether she understood this or not I cannot say, but I have
since been given to understand that she left with them."
"How long ago?" Mr. Sabin asked.
"Several hours, I fear," the Duke answered. "I should like,
Souspennier, to express to you my regrets that I was ever induced
to become connected in any way with proceedings which must have
caused you a great deal of pain. I beg you to accept my apologies.
"I do not blame you, Duke," Mr. Sabin said. "My one desire now is
to wrest my wife away from this gang. Can you tell me whether she
left alone or with any of them?"
"I will endeavour to ascertain," the Duke said, ringing the bell.
But before the Duke's somewhat long-winded series of questions had
gone very far Mr. Sabin grasped the fact that the servants had
been tampered with. Without wasting any more time he took a
somewhat hurried leave and drove back to the hotel. One of the
hall porters approached him, smiling.
"There is a lady waiting for you in your rooms, sir," he announced.
"She arrived a few minutes ago."
Mr. Sabin rang for the elevator, got out at his floor and walked
down the corridor, leaning a little more heavily than usual upon
his stick. If indeed it were Lucille who had braved all and come
to him the way before them might still be smooth sailing. He
would never let her go again. He was sure of that. They would
leave England - yes, there was time still to catch the five o'clock
train. He turned the handle of his door and entered. A familiar
figure rose from the depths of his easy-chair. Her hat lay on the
table, her jacket was open, one of his cigarettes was between her
lips. But it was not Lucille.
"Lady Carey!" he said slowly. "This is an unexpected pleasure.
Have you brought Lucille with you?"
"I am afraid," she answered, "that I have no ropes strong enough."
"You insinuate," he remarked, "that Lucille would be unwilling to
"There is no longer any need," she declared, with a hard little
laugh, "for insinuations. We have all been turned out from Dorset
House neck and crop. Lucille has accepted the inevitable. She has
gone to Reginald's Brott's rooms."
Mr. Sabin smiled.
"Indeed. I have just come from Dorset House myself. The Duke has
supplied me with a highly entertaining account of his sudden
awakening. The situation must have been humorous."
Her eyes twinkled.
"it was really screamingly funny. The Duke had on his house of
Lords manner, and we all sat round like a lot of naughty children.
If only you bad been there."
Mr. Sabin smiled. Suddenly she laid her hand upon his arm.
"Victor," she said, "I have come to prove that I am your friend.
You do not believe that Lucille is with Reginald Brott. It is true!
Not only that, but she is leaving England with him to-night. The
man's devotion is irresistible - he has been gaining on her slowly
but surely all the time."
"I have noticed" Mr. Sabin remarked calmly, "that he has been
wonderfully assiduous. I am sure I congratulate him upon his
success, if he has succeeded."
"You doubt my word of course," she said. "But I have not come here
to tell you things. I have come to prove them. I presume that what
you see with your own eyes will be sufficient."
Mr. Sabin shook his head.
"Certainly not," he answered. "I make it a rule to believe nothing
that I see, and never to trust my ears."
She stamped her foot lightly upon the floor.
"How impossible you are," she exclaimed. "I can tell you by what
train Lucille and Reginald Brott will leave London to-night. I can
tell you why Lucille is bound to go."
"Now," Mr. Sabin said, "you are beginning to get interesting."
"Lucille must go - or run the risk of arrest for complicity in the
murder of Duson."
"Are you serious?" Mr. Sabin asked, with admirably assumed gravity.
"Is it a jesting matter?" she answered fiercely. "Lucille bought
poison, the same poison which it will be proved that Duson died of.
She came here, she was the last person to enter your room before
Duson was found dead. The police are even now searching for her.
Escape is her only chance."
"Dear me," Mr. Sabin said. "Then it is not only for Brott's sake
that she is running away."
"What does that matter? She is going, and she is going with him."
"And why," he asked, "do you come to give me warning? I have plenty
of time to interpose."
"You can try if you will. Lucille is in hiding. She will not see
you if you go to her. She is determined. Indeed, she has no
choice. Lucille is a brave woman in many ways, but you know that
she fears death. She is in a corner. She is forced to go."
"Again," he said, "I feel that I must ask you why do you give me
She came and stood close to him.
"Perhaps," she said earnestly, "I am anxious to earn your gratitude.
Perhaps, too, I know that no interposition of yours would be of any
Mr. Sabin smiled.
"Still," he said, "I do not think that it is wise of you. I might
appear at the station and forcibly prevent Lucille's departure.
After all, she is my wife, you know."
She shrugged her shoulders.
"I am not afraid," she said. "You will make inquiries when I have
gone, and you will find out that I have spoken the truth. If you
keep Lucille in England you will expose her to a terrible risk. It
is not like you to be selfish. You will yield to necessity."
"Will you tell me where Lucille is now?" he asked.
"For your own sake and hers, no," she answered. "You also are
watched. Besides, it is too late. She was with Brott half an hour
after the Duke turned us out of Dorset House. Don't you understand,
Victor - won't you? It is too late."
He sat down heavily in his easy-chair. His whole appearance was
one of absolute dejection.
"So I am to be left alone in my old age," he murmured. "You have
your revenge now at last. You have come to take it."
She sank on her knees by the side of his chair, and her arms fell
upon his shoulders.
"How can you think so cruelly of me, Victor," she murmured. "You
were always a little mistaken in Lucille. She loved you, it is
true, but all her life she has been fond of change and excitement.
She came to Europe willingly - long before this Brott would have
been her slave save for your reappearance. Can't you forget her
- for a little while?"
Mr. Sabin sat quite still. Her hair brushed his cheeks, her arms
were about his neck, her whole attitude was an invitation for his
embrace. But he sat like a figure of stone, neither repulsing nor
"You need not be alone unless you like," she whispered.
"I am an old man," he said slowly, "and this is a hard blow for me
to bear. I must be sure, absolutely sure that she has gone."
"By this time to-morrow," she murmured, "all the world will know it."
"Come to me then," he said. "I shall need consolation."
Her eyes were bright with triumph. She leaned over him and kissed
him on the lips. Then she sprang lightly to her feet.
"Wait here for me," she said, "and I will come to you. You shall
know, Victor, that Lucille is not the only woman in the world who
has cared for you."
There was a tap at the door. Lady Carey was busy adjusting her
hat. Passmore entered, and stood hesitating upon the threshold.
Mr. Sabin had risen to his feet. He took one of her hands and
raised it to his lips. She gave him a swift, wonderful look and
Mr. Sabin's manner changed as though by magic. He was at once
alert and vigorous.
"My dear Passmore," he said, "come to the table. We shall want
those Continental time-tables and the London A.B.C. You will have
to take a journey to-night."
The two women were alone in the morning-room of Lady Carey's house
in Pont Street. Lucille was walking restlessly up and down twisting
her handkerchief between her fingers. Lady Carey was watching her,
more composed, to all outward appearance, but with closely compressed
lips, and boding gleam in her eyes.
"I think," Lady Carey said, "that you had better see him."
Lucille turned almost fiercely upon her.
"Well, for one thing he will not understand your refusal. He may
"What does it matter? I have finished with him. I have done all
that I pledged myself to. What more can be expected of me? I do
not wish to see him again."
Lady Carey laughed.
"At least," she said, "I think that the poor man has a right to
receive his conge from you. You cannot break with him without a
word of explanation. Perhaps - you may not find it so easy as it
Lucille swept around.
"What do you mean?"
Lady Carey shrugged her shoulders.
"You are in a curious mood, my dear Lucille. What I mean is obvious
enough. Brott is a strong man and a determined man. I do not think
that he will enjoy being made a fool of."
Lucille was indifferent.
"At any rate," she said, "I shall not see him. I have quite made
up my mind about that."
"And why not, Countess?" a deep voice asked from the threshold.
"What have I done? May I not at least know my fault?"
Lady Carey rose and moved towards the door.
"You shall have it out between yourselves," she declared, looking
up, and nodding at Brott as she passed. "Don't fight!"
The cry was imperative, but Lady Carey had gone. Mr. Brott closed
the door behind him and confronted Lucille. A brilliant spot of
colour flared in her pale cheeks.
"But this is a trap!" she exclaimed. "Who sent for you? Why did
He looked at her in surprise.
His eyes were full of passionate remonstrance. She looked nervously
from him towards the door. He intercepted her glance.
"What have I done?" he asked fiercely. "What have I failed to do?
Why do you look as though I had forced myself upon you? Haven't I
the right? Don't you wish to see me?"
In Brott's face and tone was all the passionate strenuousness of a
great crisis. Lucille felt suddenly helpless before the directness
of his gaze, his storm of questions. In all their former intercourse
it had been she who by virtue of her sex and his blind love for her
had kept the upper hand. And now the position was changed. All
sorts of feeble explanations, of appeals to him, occurred to her
dimly, only to be rejected by reason of their ridiculous inadequacy.
She was silent-abjectly silent.
He came a little closer to her, and the strength of the man was
manifest in his intense self-restraint. His words were measured,
his tone quiet. Yet both somehow gave evidence of the smouldering
"Lucille," he said, "I find you hard to understand to-day. You
have made me your slave, you came once more into my life at its
most critical moment, and for your sake I have betrayed a great
trust. My conscience, my faith, and although that counts for
little, my political career, were in the balance against my love
for you. You know which conquered. At your bidding I have made
myself the jest of every man who buys the halfpenny paper and
calls himself a politician. My friends heap abuse upon me, my
enemies derision. I cannot hold my position in this new Cabinet.
I had gone too far for compromise. I wonder if you quite
understand what has happened?"
"Oh, I have heard too much," she cried. "Spare me the rest."
He continued as though he had not heard her.
"Men who have been my intimate associates for many years, and whose
friendship was dear to me, cross the road to avoid: meeting me, day
by day I am besieged with visitors and letters from the suffering
people to whom my word had been pledged, imploring me for some
explanation, for one word of denial. Life has become a hell for me,
a pestilent, militant hell! Yet, Lucille, unless you break faith
with me I make no complaint. I am content."
"I am very sorry," she said. "I do not think that you have properly
understood me. I have never made you any promise."
For a moment he lost control of himself. She shrank back at the
blaze of indignation, half scornful, half incredulous, which lit up
his clear, grey eyes.
"It is a lie!" ' he answered. "Between you and me it can be no
question of words. You were always very careful of your pledges,
but there are limits even to your caution - as to my forbearance.
A woman does not ask a man who is pleading to her for her love to
give up everything else he cares for in life without hope of reward.
It is monstrous! I never sought you under false pretenses. I never
asked you for your friendship. I wanted you. I told you so plainly.
You won't deny that you gave me hope - encouraged me? You can't
even deny that I am within my rights if I claim now at this instant
the reward for my apostasy."
Her hands were suddenly locked in his. She felt herself being drawn
into his arms. With a desperate effort she avoided his embrace. He
still held her left wrist, and his face was dark with passion.
"Let me go!" she pleaded.
"Not I!" he answered, with an odd, choked little laugh. "You
belong to me. I have paid the price. I, too, am amongst the long
list of those poor fools who have sold their gods and their honour
for a woman's kiss. But I will not be left wholly destitute. You
shall pay me for what I have lost."
"Oh, you are mad!" she answered. "How could you have deceived
yourself so? Don't you know that my husband is in London?"
"The man who calls himself Mr. Sabin?" he answered roughly. "What
has that to do with it? You are living apart. Saxe Leinitzer and
the Duchess have both told me the history of your married life. Or
is the whole thing a monstrous lie?" he cried, with a sudden dawning
sense of the truth. "Nonsense! I won't believe it. Lucille!
You're not afraid! I shall be good to you. You don't doubt that.
Sabin will divorce you of course. You won't lose your friends. I - "
There was a sudden loud tapping at the door. Brott dropped her
wrist and turned round with an exclamation of anger. To Lucille it
was a Heaven-sent interposition. The Prince entered, pale, and
with signs of hurry and disorder about his usually immaculate person.
"You are both here," he exclaimed. "Good! Lucille, I must speak
with you urgently in five minutes. Brott, come this way with me."
Lucille sank into a chair with a little murmur of relief. The
Prince led Brott into another room, and closed the door carefully
"Mr. Brott," he said, "can I speak to you as a friend of Lucille's?"
Brott, who distrusted the Prince, looked him steadily in the face.
Saxe Leinitzer's agitation was too apparent to be wholly assumed.
He had all the appearance of being a man desperately in earnest.
"I have always considered myself one," Brott answered. "I am
beginning to doubt, however, whether the Countess holds me in the
"You found her hysterical, unreasonable, overwrought!" the Prince
exclaimed. "That is so, eh?"
The Prince drew a long breath.
"Brott," he said, "I am forced to confide in you. Lucille is in
terrible danger. I am not sure that there is anybody who can
effectually help her but you. Are you prepared to make a great
sacrifice for her sake - to leave England at once, to take her to
the uttermost part of the world?"
Brott's eyes were suddenly bright. The Prince quailed before the
fierceness of his gaze.
"She would not go!" he exclaimed sharply.
"She will," the Prince answered. "She must! Not only that, but
you will earn her eternal gratitude. Listen, I must tell you the
predicament in which we find ourselves. It places Lucille's life
in your hands."
The exclamation came like a pistol shot. The Prince held up his
"Do not interrupt. Let me speak. Every moment is very valuable.
You heard without doubt of the sudden death at the Carlton Hotel.
It took place in Mr. Sabin's sitting-room. The victim was Mr.
Sabin's servant. The inquest was this afternoon. The verdict was
death from the effect of poison. The police are hot upon the case.
There was no evidence as to the person by whom the poison was
administered, but by a hideous combination of circumstances one
person before many hours have passed will be under the surveillance
of the police."
"And that person?" Brott asked.
The Prince looked round and lowered his voice, although the room
"Lucille," he whispered hoarsely.
Brott stepped backwards as though he were shot.
"What damned folly!" he exclaimed.
"It is possible that you may not think so directly," Saxe Leinitzer
continued. "The day it happened Lucille bought this same poison,
and it is a rare one, from a man who has absconded. An hour before
this man was found dead, she called at the hotel, left no name, but
went upstairs to Mr. Sabin's room, and was alone there for five
minutes, The man died from a single grain of poison which had been
introduced into Mr. Sabin's special liqueur glass, out of which he
was accustomed to drink three or four times a day. All these are
absolute facts, which at any moment may be discovered by the police.
Added to that she is living apart from her husband, and is known to
be on bad terms with him."
Brott as gripping the back of a chair. He was white to the lips.
"You don't think," he cried hoarsely. "You can't believe - "
"No" the Prince answered quickly, "I don't believe anything of the
sort. I will tell you as man to than that I believe she wished Mr.
Sabin dead. You yourself should know why. But no, I don't believe
she went so far as that. It was an accident. But what we have to
do is to save her. Will you help?"
"She must cross to the Continent to-night before the police get on
the scent. Afterwards she must double back to Havre and take the
Bordlaise for New York on Saturday. Once there I can guarantee her
"She cannot go alone."
"You mean that I should go with her?"
"Yes! Get her right away, and I will employ special detectives and
have the matter cleared up, if ever it can be. But if she remains
here I fear that nothing can save her from the horror of an arrest,
even if afterwards We are able to save her. You yourself risk much,
Brott. The only question that remains is, will you do it?"
"At her bidding - yes!" Brott declared.
"Wait here," the Prince answered.
Saxe Leinitzer returned to the morning-room, and taking the key
from his pocket unlocked the door. Inside Lucille was pale with
"What! I am a prisoner, then!" she exclaimed. "How dare you
lock me in? This is not your house. Let me pass! I am tired of
all this stupid espionage."
The Prince stood with his back to the door.
"It is for your own sake, Lucille. The house is watched."
She sank into a low chair, trembling. The Prince had all the
appearance of a man himself seriously disturbed.
"Lucille," he said, "we will do what we can for you. The whole
thing is horribly unfortunate. You must leave England to-night.
Muriel will go with you. Her presence will help to divert suspicion.
Once you can reach Paris I can assure you of safety. But in this
country I am almost powerless."
"I must see Victor," she said in a low tone. "I will not go
The Prince nodded.
"I have thought of that. There is no reason, Lucille, why he should
not be the one to lead you into safety."
"You mean that?" she cried.
"I mean it," the Prince answered. "After what has happened you are
of course of no further use to us. I am inclined to think, too,
that we have been somewhat exacting. I will send a messenger to
Souspennier to meet you at Charing Cross to-night."
She sprang up.
"Let me write it myself."
"Very well," he agreed, with a shrug of the shoulders. "But do not
address or sign it. There is danger in any communication between
She took a sheet of note-paper and hastily wrote a few words.
"I have need of your help. Will you be at Charing Cross at twelve
o'clock prepared for a journey. - Lucille."
The Prince took the letter from her and hastily folded it up.
"I will deliver it myself," he announced. "It will perhaps be
safest. Until I return, Lucille, do not stir from the house or see
any one. Muriel has given the servants orders to admit no one.
All your life," he added, after a moment's pause, "you have been a
little cruel to me, and this time also. I shall pray that you will
relent before our next meeting."
She rose to her feet and looked him full in the face. She seemed
to be following out her own train of thought rather than taking
note of his words.
"Even now," she said thoughtfully, "I am not sure that I can trust
you. I have a good mind to fight or scream my way out of this
house, and go myself to see Victor."
He shrugged his shoulders.
"The fighting or the screaming will not be necessary, dear
Countess," he said. "The doors are open to you. But it is as clear
as day that if you go to the hotel or near it you will at once be
recognised, and recognition means arrest. There is a limit beyond
which one cannot help a wilful woman. Take your life in your hands
and go your own way, or trust in us who are doing our best to save
"And what of Reginald Brott?" she asked.
"Brott?" the Prince repeated impatiently. "Who cares what becomes
of him? You have made him seem a fool, but, Lucille, to tell you
the truth, I am sorry that we did not leave this country altogether
alone. There is not the soil for intrigue here, or the possibility.
Then, too, the police service is too stolid, too inaccessible. And
even our friends, for whose aid we are here - well, you heard the
Duke. The cast-iron Saxon idiocy of the man. The aristocracy here
are what they call bucolic. It is their own fault. They have
intermarried with parvenus and Americans for generations. They are
a race by themselves. We others may shake ourselves free from them.
I would work in any country of the globe for the good of our cause,
but never again in England."
Lucille shivered a little.
"I am not in the humour for argument," she declared. "If you would
earn my gratitude take that note to my husband. He is the only man
I feel sure of - whom I know can protect me."
The Prince bowed low.
"It is our farewell, Countess," he said.
"I cannot pretend," she answered, "to regret it."
Saxe Leinitzer left the room. There was a peculiar smile upon his
lips as he crossed the hall. Brott was still awaiting for him.
"Mr. Brott," he said, "the Countess is, as I feared, too agitated
to see you again for the present, or any one else. She sends you,
however, this message."
He took the folded paper from his waistcoat pocket and handed it
to the other man. Brott read it through eagerly. His eyes shone.
"She accepts the situation, then?" he exclaimed.
"Precisely! Will you pardon me, my friend, if I venture upon one
other word. Lucille is not an ordinary woman. She is not in the
least like the majority of her sex, especially, I might add, amongst
us. The fact that her husband was living would seriously influence
her consideration of any other man - as her lover. The present
crisis, however, has changed everything. I do not think that you
will have cause to complain of her lack of gratitude."
Brott walked out into the streets with the half sheet of note-paper
twisted up between his fingers. For the first time for months he
was conscious of a distinct and vivid sense of happiness. The
terrible period of indecision was past. He knew now where he stood.
Nor was his immediate departure from England altogether unpleasant
to him. His political career was shattered - friends and enemies
were alike cold to him. Such an act of cowardice as his, such
pitiful shrinking back at the last fateful moment, was inexplicable
and revolting. Even Letheringham was barely civil. It was certain
that his place in the Cabinet would be intolerable. He yearned for
escape from it all, and the means of escape were now at hand. In
after years he knew very well that the shadow of his broken trust,
the torture of his misused opportunities, would stand for ever
between him and the light. But at that moment he was able to clear
his mind of all such disquieting thoughts. He had won Lucille
- never mind at what cost, at what peril! He had won Lucille!
He was deeply engrossed, and his name was spoken twice in his ear
before he turned round. A small, somewhat shabby-looking man, with
tired eyes and more than a day's growth of beard upon his chin, had
"Mr. Brott, sir. A word with you, please."
Brott held out his hand. Nevertheless his tone when he spoke lacked
"You, Hedley! Why, what brings you to London?"
The little man did not seem to see the hand. At any rate he made
no motion to take it.
"A few minutes' chat with Mr. Brott. That's what I've come for."
Brott raised his eyebrows, and nodded in somewhat constrained
"Well," he said, "I am on my way to my rooms. We can talk as we
go, if you like. I am afraid the good people up in your part of
the world are not too well pleased with me."
The little man smiled rather queerly.
"That is quite true," he answered calmly. "They hate a liar and
a turn-coat. So do I!"
Brott stopped short upon the pavement.
"If you are going to talk like that to me, Hedley," he said, "the
less you have to say the better."
The man nodded.
"Very well," he said. "What I have to say won't take me very long.
But as I've tramped most of the way up here to say it, you'll have
to listen here or somewhere else. I thought you were always one who
liked the truth."
"So I do!" Brott answered. "Go on!"
The man shuffled along by his side. They were an odd-looking pair,
for Brott was rather a careful man as regards his toilet, and his
companion looked little better than a tramp.
"All my life," he continued, "I've been called 'Mad Hedley,' or
'Hedley, the mad tailor.' Sometimes one and sometimes the other.
It don't matter which. There's truth in, it. I am a bit mad. You,
Mr. Brott, were one of those who understood me a little. I have
brooded a good deal perhaps, and things have got muddled up in my
brain. You know what has been at the bottom of it all.
"I began making speeches when I was a boy. People laughed at me,
but I've set many a one a-thinking. I'm no anarchist, although
people call me one. I'll admit that I admire the men who set the
French Revolution going. If such a thing happened in this country
I'd be one of the first to join in. But I've never had a taste
for bloodshed. I'd rather the thing had been done without. From
the first you seemed to be the man who might have brought it about.
We listened to you, we watched your career, and we began to have
hopes. Mr. Brott, the bodies and souls of millions of your
fellow-creatures were in the hollow of your hand. It was you who
might have set them free. It was you who might have made this the
greatest, the freest, the happiest country in the world. Not so
much for us perhaps as for our children, and our children's children.
We didn't expect a huge social upheaval in a week, or even a decade
of years. But we did expect to see the first blow struck. Oh, yes,
we expected that."
"I have disappointed you, I know, you and many others," Brott said
bitterly. "I wish I could explain. But I can't!"
"Oh, it doesn't matter," the man answered. "You have broken the
hearts of thousands of suffering men and women - you who might have
led them into the light, have forged another bolt in the bars which
stand between them and liberty. So they must live on in the
darkness, dull, dumb creatures with just spirit enough to spit and
curse at the sound of your name. It was the greatest trust God
ever placed in one man's hand - and you - you abused it. They were
afraid of you - the aristocrats, and they bought you. Oh, we are
not blind up there - there are newspapers in our public houses, and
now and then one can afford a half-penny. We have read of you at
their parties and their dances. Quite one of them you have become,
haven't you? But, Mr. Brott, have you never been afraid? Have you
never said to yourself, there is justice in the earth? Suppose it
finds me out?"
"Hedley, you are talking rubbish," J3rott said. "Up here you would
see things with different eyes. Letheringham is pledged."
"If any man ever earned hell," Hedley continued, "it is you, Brott,
you who came to us a deliverer, and turned out to be a lying prophet.
'Hell,' he repeated fiercely, "and may you find it swiftly."
The man's right hand came out of his long pocket. They were in the
thick of Piccadilly, but his action was too swift for any
interference. Four reports rang suddenly out, and the muzzle of
the revolver was held deliberately within an inch or so of Brett's
heart. And before even the nearest of the bystanders could realise
what had happened Brott lay across the pavement a dead man, and
Hedley was calmly handing over the revolver to a policeman who had
sprang across the street.
"Be careful, officer," he said, "there are still two chambers loaded.
I will come with you quite quietly. That is Mr. Reginald Brott, the
Cabinet Minister, and I have killed him."
For once," Lady Carey said, with a faint smile, "your 'admirable
Crichton' has failed you."
Lucille opened her eyes. She had been leaning back amongst the
"I think not," she said. "Only I blame myself that I ever trusted
the Prince even so far as to give him that message. For I know
very well that if Victor had received it he would have been here."
Lady Carey took up a great pile of papers and looked them carelessly
"I am afraid," she said, "that I do not agree with you. I do not
think that Saxe Leinitzer had any desire except to see you safely
away. I believe that he will be quite as disappointed as you are
that your husband is not here to aid you. Some one must see you
safely on the steamer at Havre. Perhaps he will come himself."
"I shall wait in Paris," Lucille said quietly, "for my husband."
"You may wait," Lady Carey said, "for a very long time."
Lucille looked at her steadily. "What do you mean?"
"What a fool you are, Lucille. If to other people it seems almost
certain on the face of it that you were responsible for that drop
of poison in your husband's liqueur glass, why should it not seem
so to himself?"
Lucille laughed, but there was a look of horror in her dark eyes.
"How absurd. I know Victor better than to believe him capable of
such a suspicion. Just as he knows me better than to believe me
capable of such an act."
"Really. But you were in his rooms secretly just before."
"I went to leave some roses for him," Lucille answered. "And if
you would like to know it, I will tell you this. I left my card
tied to them with a message for him."
Lady Carey yawned.
"A remarkably foolish thing to do," she said. "That may cause you
trouble later on. Great heavens, what is this?"
She held the evening paper open in her hand. Lucille leaned over
with blanched face.
"What has happened?" she cried. "Tell me, can't you!"
"Reginald Brott has been shot in Piccadilly," Lady Carey said.
"Is he hurt?" Lucille asked.
"He is dead!"
They read the brief announcement together. The deed had been
committed by a man whose reputation for sanity had long been
questioned, one of Brott's own constituents. He was in custody,
and freely admitted his guilt. The two women looked at one another
in horror. Even Lady Carey was affected.
"What a hateful thing," she said. "I am glad that we had no hand
"Are you so sure that we hadn't?" Lucille asked bitterly. "You see
what it says. The man killed him because of his political apostasy.
We had something to do with that at least."
Lady Carey was recovering her sang froid.
"Oh, well," she said, "indirect influences scarcely count, or one
might trace the causes of everything which happens back to an absurd
extent. If this man was mad he might just as well have shot Brott
Lucille made no answer. She leaned back and closed her eyes. She
did not speak again till they reached Dover.
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