Part 2 out of 5
that it was the luggage of nobody in particular, that it belonged to
various guests, and was bound for various destinations; that it was,
in fact, 'expressed'
luggage despatched in advance, and that a similar quantity of it left
the hotel every morning about that hour.
Theodore Racksole walked away, and breakfasted upon one cup of
tea and half a slice of toast.
At ten o'clock he was informed that the inspector of police desired
to see him. The inspector had come, he said, to superintend the
removal of the body of Reginald Dimmock to the mortuary
adjoining the place of inquest, and a suitable vehicle waited at the
back entrance of the hotel.
The inspector had also brought subpoenas for himself and Prince
Aribert of Posen and the commissionaire to attend the inquest.
'I thought Mr Dimmock's remains were removed last night,' said
'No, sir. The fact is the van was engaged on another job.'
The inspector gave the least hint of a professional smile, and
Racksole, disgusted, told him curtly to go and perform his duties.
In a few minutes a message came from the inspector requesting Mr
Racksole to be good enough to come to him on the first floor.
Racksole went. In the ante-room, where the body of Reginald
Dimmock had originally been placed, were the inspector and
Prince Aribert, and two policemen.
'Well?' said Racksole, after he and the Prince had exchanged bows.
Then he saw a coffin laid across two chairs. 'I see a coffin has been
obtained,' he remarked. 'Quite right' He approached it. 'It's empty,'
he observed unthinkingly.
'Just so,' said the inspector. 'The body of the deceased has
And his Serene Highness Prince Aribert informs me that though he
has occupied a room immediately opposite, on the other side of the
corridor, he can throw no light on the affair.'
'Indeed, I cannot!' said the Prince, and though he spoke with
sufficient calmness and dignity, you could see that he was deeply
pained, even distressed.
'Well, I'm - ' murmured Racksole, and stopped.
Chapter Seven NELLA AND THE PRINCE
IT appeared impossible to Theodore Racksole that so cumbrous an
article as a corpse could be removed out of his hotel, with no trace,
no hint, no clue as to the time or the manner of the performance of
the deed. After the first feeling of surprise, Racksole grew coldly
and severely angry. He had a mind to dismiss the entire staff of the
hotel. He personally examined the night-watchman, the
chambermaids and all other persons who by chance might or ought
to know something of the affair; but without avail. The corpse of
Reginald Dimmock had vanished utterly - disappeared like a
Of course there were the police. But Theodore Racksole held the
police in sorry esteem. He acquainted them with the facts,
answered their queries with a patient weariness, and expected,
nothing whatever from that quarter. He also had several interviews
with Prince Aribert of Posen, but though the Prince was suavity
itself and beyond doubt genuinely concerned about the fate of his
dead attendant, yet it seemed to Racksole that he was keeping
something back, that he hesitated to say all he knew. Racksole,
with characteristic insight, decided that the death of Reginald
Dimmock was only a minor event, which had occurred, as it were,
on the fringe of some far more profound mystery. And, therefore,
he decided to wait, with his eyes very wide open, until something
else happened that would throw light on the business. At the
moment he took only one measure - he arranged that the theft of
Dimmock's body should not appear in the newspapers. It is
astonishing how well a secret can be kept, when the possessors of
the secret are handled with the proper mixture of firmness and
persuasion. Racksole managed this very neatly. It was a
complicated job, and his success in it rather pleased him.
At the same time he was conscious of being temporarily worsted
by an unknown group of schemers, in which he felt convinced that
Jules was an important item. He could scarcely look Nella in the
eyes. The girl had evidently expected him to unmask this
conspiracy at once, with a single stroke of the millionaire's magic
wand. She was thoroughly accustomed, in the land of her birth, to
seeing him achieve impossible feats. Over there he was a 'boss';
men trembled before his name; when he wished a thing to happen -
well, it happened; if he desired to know a thing, he just knew it.
But here, in London, Theodore Racksole was not quite the same
Theodore Racksole. He dominated New York; but London, for the
most part, seemed not to take much interest in him; and there were
certainly various persons in London who were capable of snapping
their fingers at him - at Theodore Racksole. Neither he nor his
daughter could get used to that fact.
As for Nella, she concerned herself for a little with the ordinary
business of the bureau, and watched the incomings and outgoings
of Prince Aribert with a kindly interest. She perceived, what her
father had failed to perceive, that His Highness had assumed an
attitude of reserve merely to hide the secret distraction and dismay
which consumed him. She saw that the poor fellow had no settled
plan in his head, and that he was troubled by something which, so
far, he had confided to nobody. It came to her knowledge that each
morning he walked to and fro on the Victoria Embankment, alone,
and apparently with no object. On the third morning she decided
that driving exercise on the Embankment would be good for her
health, and thereupon ordered a carriage and issued forth, arrayed
in a miraculous putty-coloured gown. Near Blackfriars Bridge she
met the Prince, and the carriage was drawn up by the pavement.
'Good morning, Prince,' she greeted him. 'Are you mistaking this
for Hyde Park?'
He bowed and smiled.
'I usually walk here in the mornings,' he said.
'You surprise me,' she returned. 'I thought I was the only person in
London who preferred the Embankment, with this view of the
river, to the dustiness of Hyde Park. I can't imagine how it is that
London will never take exercise anywhere except in that ridiculous
Park. Now, if they had Central Park - '
'I think the Embankment is the finest spot in all London,' he said.
She leaned a little out of the landau, bringing her face nearer to
'I do believe we are kindred spirits, you and I,' she murmured; and
then, 'Au revoir, Prince!'
'One moment, Miss Racksole.' His quick tones had a note of
'I am in a hurry,' she fibbed; 'I am not merely taking exercise this
morning. You have no idea how busy we are.'
'Ah! then I will not trouble you. But I leave the Grand Babylon
'Do you?' she said. 'Then will your Highness do me the honour of
lunching with me today in Father's room? Father will be out - he is
having a day in the City with some stockbroking persons.'
'I shall be charmed,' said the Prince, and his face showed that he
Nella drove off.
If the lunch was a success that result was due partly to Rocco, and
partly to Nella. The Prince said little beyond what the ordinary
rules of the conversational game demanded. His hostess talked
much and talked well, but she failed to rouse her guest. When they
had had coffee he took a rather formal leave of her.
'Good-bye, Prince,' she said, 'but I thought - that is, no I didn't.
'You thought I wished to discuss something with you. I did; but I
have decided that I have no right to burden your mind with my
'But suppose - suppose I wish to be burdened?'
'That is your good nature.'
'Sit down,' she said abruptly, 'and tell me everything; mind,
everything. I adore secrets.'
Almost before he knew it he was talking to her, rapidly, eagerly.
'Why should I weary you with my confidences?' he said. 'I don't
know, I cannot tell; but I feel that I must. I feel that you will
understand me better than anyone else in the world. And yet why
should you understand me? Again, I don't know. Miss Racksole, I
will disclose to you the whole trouble in a word. Prince Eugen, the
hereditary Grand Duke of Posen, has disappeared. Four days ago I
was to have met him at Ostend. He had affairs in London. He
wished me to come with him. I sent Dimmock on in front, and
waited for Eugen. He did not arrive. I telegraphed back to
Cologne, his last stopping-place, and I learned that he had left
there in accordance with his programme; I leamed also that he had
passed through Brussels. It must have been between Brussels and
the railway station at Ostend Quay that he disappeared. He was
travelling with a single equerry, and the equerry, too, has vanished.
I need not explain to you, Miss Racksole, that when a person of the
importance of my nephew contrives to get lost one must proceed
cautiously. One cannot advertise for him in the London Times.
Such a disappearance must be kept secret. The people at Posen and
at Berlin believe that Eugen is in London, here, at this hotel; or,
rather, they did so believe. But this morning I received a cypher
telegram from - from His Majesty the Emperor, a very peculiar
telegram, asking when Eugen might be expected to return to
Posen, and requesting that he should go first to Berlin. That
telegram was addressed to myself. Now, if the Emperor thought
that Eugen was here, why should he have caused the telegram to
be addressed to me? I have hesitated for three days, but I can
hesitate no longer. I must myself go to the Emperor and acquaint
him with the facts.'
'I suppose you've just got to keep straight with him?' Nella was on
the point of saying, but she checked herself and substituted, 'The
Emperor is your chief, is he not? "First among equals", you call
'His Majesty is our over-lord,' said Aribert quietly.
'Why do you not take immediate steps to inquire as to the
whereabouts of your Royal nephew?' she asked simply. The affair
seemed to her just then so plain and straightforward.
'Because one of two things may have happened. Either Eugen may
have been, in plain language, abducted, or he may have had his
own reasons for changing his programme and keeping in the
background - out of reach of telegraph and post and railways.'
'What sort of reasons?'
'Do not ask me. In the history of every family there are passages - '
'And what was Prince Eugen's object in coming to London?'
'Money,' he said at length. 'As a family we are very poor - poorer
than anyone in Berlin suspects.'
'Prince Aribert,' Nella said, 'shall I tell you what I think?' She
leaned back in her chair, and looked at him out of half-closed eyes.
His pale, thin, distinguished face held her gaze as if by some
fascination. There could be no mistaking this man for anything
else but a Prince.
'If you will,' he said.
'Prince Eugen is the victim of a plot.'
'You think so?'
'I am perfectly convinced of it.'
'But why? What can be the object of a plot against him?'
'That is a point of which you should know more than me,' she
'Ah! Perhaps, perhaps,' he said. 'But, dear Miss Racksole, why are
you so sure?'
'There are several reasons, and they are connected with Mr
Dimmock. Did you ever suspect, your Highness, that that poor
young man was not entirely loyal to you?'
'He was absolutely loyal,' said the Prince, with all the earnestness
'A thousand pardons, but he was not.'
'Miss Racksole, if any other than yourself made that assertion, I
would - I would - '
'Consign them to the deepest dungeon in Posen?' she laughed,
'Listen.' And she told him of the incidents which had occurred in
the night preceding his arrival in the hotel.
'Do you mean, Miss Racksole, that there was an understanding
between poor Dimmock and this fellow Jules?'
'There was an understanding.'
'Your Highness, the man who wishes to probe a mystery to its root
never uses the word "impossible". But I will say this for young Mr
Dimmock. I think he repented, and I think that it was because he
repented that he - er - died so suddenly, and that his body was
'Why has no one told me these things before?' Aribert exclaimed.
'Princes seldom hear the truth,' she said.
He was astonished at her coolness, her firmness of assertion, her
air of complete acquaintance with the world.
'Miss Racksole,' he said, 'if you will permit me to say it, I have
never in my life met a woman like you. May I rely on your
sympathy - your support?'
'My support, Prince? But how?'
'I do not know,' he replied. 'But you could help me if you would. A
woman, when she has brain, always has more brain than a man.'
'Ah!' she said ruefully, 'I have no brains, but I do believe I could
What prompted her to make that assertion she could not have
explained, even to herself. But she made it, and she had a
suspicion - a prescience - that it would be justified, though by what
means, through what good fortune, was still a mystery to her.
'Go to Berlin,' she said. 'I see that you must do that; you have no
alternative. As for the rest, we shall see. Something will occur. I
shall be here. My father will be here. You must count us as your
He kissed her hand when he left, and afterwards, when she was
alone, she kissed the spot his lips had touched again and again.
Now, thinking the matter out in the calmness of solitude, all
seemed strange, unreal, uncertain to her. Were conspiracies
actually possible nowadays? Did queer things actually happen in
Europe? And did they actually happen in London hotels? She
dined with her father that night.
'I hear Prince Aribert has left,' said Theodore Racksole.
'Yes,' she assented. She said not a word about their interview.
Chapter Eight ARRIVAL AND DEPARTURE OF THE
ON the following morning, just before lunch, a lady, accompanied
by a maid and a considerable quantity of luggage, came to the
Grand Babylon Hotel. She was a plump, little old lady, with white
hair and an old-fashioned bonnet, and she had a quaint, simple
smile of surprise at everything in general.
Nevertheless, she gave the impression of belonging to some
aristocracy, though not the English aristocracy. Her tone to her
maid, whom she addressed in broken English - the girl being
apparently English - was distinctly insolent, with the calm,
unconscious insolence peculiar to a certain type of Continental
nobility. The name on the lady's card ran thus: 'Baroness Zerlinski'.
She desired rooms on the third floor. It happened that Nella was in
'On the third floor, madam?' questioned Nella, in her best clerkly
'I did say on de tird floor,' said the plump little old lady.
'We have accommodation on the second floor.'
'I wish to be high up, out of de dust and in de light,' explained the
'We have no suites on the third floor, madam.'
'Never mind, no mattaire! Have you not two rooms that
Nella consulted her books, rather awkwardly.
'Numbers 122 and 123 communicate.'
'Or is it 121 and 122? the little old lady remarked quickly, and then
bit her lip.
'I beg your pardon. I should have said 121 and 122.'
At the moment Nella regarded the Baroness's correction of her
figures as a curious chance, but afterwards, when the Baroness had
ascended in the lift, the thing struck her as somewhat strange.
Perhaps the Baroness Zerlinski had stayed at the hotel before. For
the sake of convenience an index of visitors to the hotel was kept
and the index extended back for thirty years. Nella examined it,
but it did not contain the name of Zerlinski. Then it was that Nella
began to imagine, what had swiftly crossed her mind when first the
Baroness presented herself at the bureau, that the features of the
Baroness were remotely familiar to her. She thought, not that she
had seen the old lady's face before, but that she had seen
somewhere, some time, a face of a similar cast. It occurred to
Nella to look at the 'Almanach de Gotha' - that record of all the
mazes of Continental blue blood; but the 'Almanach de Gotha'
made no reference to any barony of Zerlinski. Nella inquired
where the Baroness meant to take lunch, and was informed that a
table had been reserved for her in the dining-room, and she at once
decided to lunch in the dining-room herself. Seated in a corner,
half-hidden by a pillar, she could survey all the guests, and watch
each group as it entered or left. Presently the Baroness appeared,
dressed in black, with a tiny lace shawl, despite the June warmth;
very stately, very quaint, and gently smiling. Nella observed her
intently. The lady ate heartily, working without haste and without
delay through the elaborate menu of the luncheon. Nella noticed
that she had beautiful white teeth. Then a remarkable thing
happened. A cream puff was served to the Baroness by way of
sweets, and Nella was astonished to see the little lady remove the
top, and with a spoon quietly take something from the interior
which looked like a piece of folded paper. No one who had not
been watching with the eye of a lynx would have noticed anything
extraordinary in the action; indeed, the chances were nine hundred
and ninety-nine to one that it would pass unheeded. But,
unfortunately for the Baroness, it was the thousandth chance that
happened. Nella jumped up, and walking over to the Baroness,
said to her:
'I'm afraid that the tart is not quite nice, your ladyship.'
'Thanks, it is delightful,' said the Baroness coldly; her smile had
vanished. 'Who are you? I thought you were de bureau clerk.'
'My father is the owner of this hoteL I thought there was something
in the tart which ought not to have been there.'
Nella looked the Baroness full in the face. The piece of folded
paper, to which a little cream had attached itself, lay under the
edge of a plate.
'No, thanks.' The Baroness smiled her simple smile.
Nella departed. She had noticed one trifling thing besides the
paper - namely, that the Baroness could pronounce the English 'th'
sound if she chose.
That afternoon, in her own room, Nella sat meditating at the
window for long time, and then she suddenly sprang up, her eyes
'I know,' she exclaimed, clapping her hands. 'It's Miss Spencer,
Why didn't I think of that before?' Her thoughts ran instantly to
Prince Aribert. 'Perhaps I can help him,' she said to herself, and
gave a little sigh. She went down to the office and inquired
whether the Baroness had given any instructions about dinner. She
felt that some plan must be formulated. She wanted to get hold of
Rocco, and put him in the rack. She knew now that Rocco, the
unequalled, was also concerned in this mysterious affair.
'The Baroness Zerlinski has left, about a quarter of an hour ago,'
said the attendant.
'But she only arrived this morning.'
'The Baroness's maid said that her mistress had received a telegram
and must leave at once. The Baroness paid the bill, and went away
in a four-wheeler.'
'Where to? 'The trunks were labelled for Ostend.'
Perhaps it was instinct, perhaps it was the mere spirit of adventure;
but that evening Nella was to be seen of all men on the steamer for
Ostend which leaves Dover at 11 p.m. She told no one of her
intentions - not even her father, who was not in the hotel when she
left. She had scribbled a brief note to him to expect her back in a
day or two, and had posted this at Dover. The steamer was the
Marie Henriette, a large and luxurious boat, whose state-rooms on
deck vie with the glories of the Cunard and White Star liners. One
of these state-rooms, the best, was evidently occupied, for every
curtain of its windows was carefully drawn. Nella did not hope
that the Baroness was on board; it was quite possible for the
Baroness to have caught the eight o'clock steamer, and it was also
possible for the Baroness not to have gone to Ostend at all, but to
some other place in an entirely different direction. Nevertheless,
Nella had a faint hope that the lady who called herself Zerlinski
might be in that curtained stateroom, and throughout the smooth
moonlit voyage she never once relaxed her observation of its doors
and its windows.
The Maria Henriette arrived in Ostend Harbour punctually at 2
a.m. in the morning. There was the usual heterogeneous,
gesticulating crowd on the quay.
Nella kept her post near the door of the state-room, and at length
she was rewarded by seeing it open. Four middle-aged Englishmen
issued from it. From a glimpse of the interior Nella saw that they
had spent the voyage in card-playing.
It would not be too much to say that she was distinctly annoyed.
She pretended to be annoyed with circumstances, but really she
was annoyed with Nella Racksole. At two in the morning, without
luggage, without any companionship, and without a plan of
campaign, she found herself in a strange foreign port - a port of
evil repute, possessing some of the worst-managed hotels in
Europe. She strolled on the quay for a few minutes, and then she
saw the smoke of another steamer in the offing. She inquired from
an official what that steamer might be, and was told that it was the
eight o'clock from Dover, which had broken down, put into Calais
for some slight necessary repairs, and was arriving at its
destination nearly four hours late. Her mercurial spirits rose again.
A minute ago she was regarding herself as no better than a ninny
engaged in a wild-goose chase. Now she felt that after all she had
been very sagacious and cunning. She was morally sure that she
would find the Zerlinski woman on this second steamer, and she
took all the credit to herself in advance. Such is human nature.
The steamer seemed interminably slow in coming into harbour.
Nella walked on the Digue for a few minutes to watch it the better.
The town was silent and almost deserted. It had a false and sinister
aspect. She remembered tales which she had heard of this
glittering resort, which in the season holds more scoundrels than
any place in Europe, save only Monte Carlo. She remembered that
the gilded adventures of every nation under the sun forgathered
there either for business or pleasure, and that some of the most
wonderful crimes of the latter half of the century had been
schemed and matured in that haunt of cosmopolitan iniquity.
When the second steamer arrived Nella stood at the end of the
gangway, close to the ticket-collector. The first person to step on
shore was - not the Baroness Zerlinski, but Miss Spencer herself!
Nella turned aside instantly, hiding her face, and Miss Spencer,
carrying a small bag, hurried with assured footsteps to the Custom
House. It seemed as if she knew the port of Ostend fairly well. The
moon shone like day, and Nella had full opportunity to observe her
quarry. She could see now quite plainly that the Baroness Zerlinski
had been only Miss Spencer in disguise. There was the same gait,
the same movement of the head and of the hips; the white hair was
easily to be accounted for by a wig, and the wrinkles by a paint
brush and some grease paints. Miss Spencer, whose hair was now
its old accustomed yellow, got through the Custom House without
difficulty, and Nella saw her call a closed carriage and say
something to the driver. The vehicle drove off. Nella jumped into
the next carriage - an open one - that came up.
'Follow that carriage,' she said succinctly to the driver in French.
'Bien, madame!' The driver whipped up his horse, and the animal
shot forward with a terrific clatter over the cobbles. It appeared
that this driver was quite accustomed to following other carriages.
'Now I am fairly in for it!' said Nella to herself. She laughed
unsteadily, but her heart was beating with an extraordinary thump.
For some time the pursued vehicle kept well in front. It crossed the
town nearly from end to end, and plunged into a maze of small
streets far on the south side of the Kursaal. Then gradually Nella's
equipage began to overtake it. The first carriage stopped with a
jerk before a tall dark house, and Miss Spencer emerged. Nella
called to her driver to stop, but he, determined to be in at the
death, was engaged in whipping his horse, and he completely
ignored her commands. He drew up triumphantly at the tall dark
house just at the moment when Miss Spencer disappeared into it.
The other carriage drove away. Nella, uncertain what to do,
stepped down from her carriage and gave the driver some money.
At the same moment a man reopened the door of the house, which
had closed on Miss Spencer.
'I want to see Miss Spencer,' said Nella impulsively. She couldn't
think of anything else to say.
'Miss Spencer? 'Yes; she's just arrived.'
'It's O.K., I suppose,' said the man.
'I guess so,' said Nella, and she walked past him into the house.
She was astonished at her own audacity.
Miss Spencer was just going into a room off the narrow hall. Nella
followed her into the apartment, which was shabbily furnished in
the Belgian lodging-house style.
'Well, Miss Spencer,' she greeted the former Baroness Zerlinski, 'I
guess you didn't expect to see me. You left our hotel very suddenly
this afternoon, and you left it very suddenly a few days ago; and so
I've just called to make a few inquiries.'
To do the lady justice, Miss Spencer bore the surprising ordeal
She did not flinch; she betrayed no emotion. The sole sign of
perturbation was in her hurried breathing.
'You have ceased to be the Baroness Zerlinski,' Nella continued.
'May I sit down?'
'Certainly, sit down,' said Miss Spencer, copying the girl's tone.
'You are a fairly smart young woman, that I will say. What do you
want? Weren't my books all straight?'
'Your books were all straight. I haven't come about your books. I
have come about the murder of Reginald Dimmock, the
disappearance of his corpse, and the disappearance of Prince
Eugen of Posen. I thought you might be able to help me in some
investigations which I am making.'
Miss Spencer's eyes gleamed, and she stood up and moved swiftly
to the mantelpiece.
'You may be a Yankee, but you're a fool,' she said.
She took hold of the bell-rope.
'Don't ring that bell if you value your life,' said Nella.
'If what?' Miss Spencer remarked.
'If you value your life,' said Nella calmly, and with the words she
pulled from her pocket a very neat and dainty little revolver.
Chapter Nine TWO WOMEN AND THE REVOLVER
'YOU - you're only doing that to frighten me,' stammered Miss
Spencer, in a low, quavering voice.
'Am I?' Nella replied, as firmly as she could, though her hand
shook violently with excitement, could Miss Spencer but have
observed it. 'Am I? You said just now that I might be a Yankee
girl, but I was a fool. Well, I am a Yankee girl, as you call it; and
in my country, if they don't teach revolver-shooting in
boarding-schools, there are at least a lot of girls who can handle a
revolver. I happen to be one of them. I tell you that if you ring that
bell you will suffer.'
Most of this was simple bluff on Nella's part, and she trembled lest
Miss Spencer should perceive that it was simple bluff. Happily for
her, Miss Spencer belonged to that order of women who have
every sort of courage except physical courage. Miss Spencer could
have withstood successfully any moral trial, but persuade her that
her skin was in danger, and she would succumb. Nella at once
divined this useful fact, and proceeded accordingly, hiding the
strangeness of her own sensations as well as she could.
'You had better sit down now,' said Nella, 'and I will ask you a few
And Miss Spencer obediently sat down, rather white, and trying to
screw her lips into a formal smile.
'Why did you leave the Grand Babylon that night?' Nella began her
examination, putting on a stern, barrister-like expression.
'I had orders to, Miss Racksole.'
'Well, I'm - I'm - the fact is, I'm a married woman, and it was my
'Who is your husband? 'Tom Jackson - Jules, you know, head
waiter at the Grand Babylon.'
'So Jules's real name is Tom Jackson? Why did he want you to
leave without giving notice?'
'I'm sure I don't know, Miss Racksole. I swear I don't know. He's
my husband, and, of course, I do what he tells me, as you will
some day do what your husband tells you. Please heaven you'll get
a better husband than mine!'
Miss Spencer showed a sign of tears.
Nella fingered the revolver, and put it at full cock. 'Well,' she
repeated, 'why did he want you to leave?' She was tremendously
surprised at her own coolness, and somewhat pleased with it, too.
'I can't tell you, I can't tell you.'
'You've just got to,' Nella said, in a terrible, remorseless tone.
'He - he wished me to come over here to Ostend. Something had
Oh! he's a fearful man, is Tom. If I told you, he'd - '
'Had something gone wrong in the hotel, or over here?'
'Was it about Prince Eugen of Posen?'
'I don't know - that is, yes, I think so.'
'What has your husband to do with Prince Eugen?'
'I believe he has some - some sort of business with him, some
'And was Mr Dimmock in this business? 'I fancy so, Miss
Racksole. I'm telling you all I know, that I swear.'
'Did your husband and Mr Dimmock have a quarrel that night in
'They had some difficulty.'
'And the result of that was that you came to Ostend instantly?'
'Yes; I suppose so.'
'And what were you to do in Ostend? What were your instructions
from this husband of yours?'
Miss Spencer's head dropped on her arms on the table which
separated her from Nella, and she appeared to sob violently.
'Have pity on me,' she murmured, 'I can't tell you any more.'
'He'd kill me if he knew.'
'You're wandering from the subject,' observed Nella coldly. 'This is
the last time I shall warn you. Let me tell you plainly I've got the
best reasons for being desperate, and if anything happens to you I
shall say I did it in sell-defence. Now, what were you to do in
'I shall die for this anyhow,' whined Miss Spencer, and then, with a
sort of fierce despair, 'I had to keep watch on Prince Eugen.'
'Where? In this house?'
Miss Spencer nodded, and, looking up, Nella could see the traces
of tears in her face.
'Then Prince Eugen was a prisoner? Some one had captured him at
the instigation of Jules?'
'Yes, if you must have it.'
'Why was it necessary for you specially to come to Ostend?'
'Oh! Tom trusts me. You see, I know Ostend. Before I took that
place at the Grand Babylon I had travelled over Europe, and Tom
knew that I knew a thing or two.'
'Why did you take the place at the Grand Babylon?'
'Because Tom told me to. He said I should be useful to him there.'
'Is your husband an Anarchist, or something of that kind, Miss
'I don't know. I'd tell you in a minute if I knew. But he's one of
those that keep themselves to themselves.'
'Do you know if he has ever committed a murder? 'Never!' said
Miss Spencer, with righteous repudiation of the mere idea.
'But Mr Dimmock was murdered. He was poisoned. If he had not
been poisoned why was his body stolen? It must have been stolen
to prevent inquiry, to hide traces. Tell me about that.'
'I take my dying oath,' said Miss Spencer, standing up a little way
from the table, 'I take my dying oath I didn't know Mr Dimmock
was dead till I saw it in the newspaper.'
'You swear you had no suspicion of it?'
'I swear I hadn't.'
Nella was inclined to believe the statement. The woman and the
girl looked at each other in the tawdry, frowsy, lamp-lit room.
Miss Spencer nervously patted her yellow hair into shape, as if
gradually recovering her composure and equanimity. The whole
affair seemed like a dream to Nella, a disturbing, sinister
nightmare. She was a little uncertain what to say. She felt that she
had not yet got hold of any very definite information. 'Where is
Prince Eugen now?' she asked at length.
'I don't know, miss.'
'He isn't in this house?'
'Ah! We will see presently.'
'They took him away, Miss Racksole.'
'Who took him away? Some of your husband's friends?'
'Some of his - acquaintances.'
'Then there is a gang of you?'
'A gang of us - a gang! I don't know what you mean,' Miss Spencer
'Oh, but you must know,' smiled Nella calmly. 'You can't possibly
be so innocent as all that, Mrs Tom Jackson. You can't play games
with me. You've just got to remember that I'm what you call a
Yankee girl. There's one thing that I mean to find out, within the
next five minutes, and that is - how your charming husband
kidnapped Prince Eugen, and why he kidnapped him. Let us begin
with the second question. You have evaded it once.'
Miss Spencer looked into Nella's face, and then her eyes dropped,
and her fingers worked nervously with the tablecloth.
'How can I tell you,' she said, 'when I don't know? You've got the
whip-hand of me, and you're tormenting me for your own
pleasure.' She wore an expression of persecuted innocence.
'Did Mr Tom Jackson want to get some money out of Prince
'Money! Not he! Tom's never short of money.'
'But I mean a lot of money - tens of thousands, hundreds of
'Tom never wanted money from anyone,' said Miss Spencer
'Then had he some reason for wishing to prevent Prince Eugen
from coming to London?'
'Perhaps he had. I don't know. If you kill me, I don't know.' Nella
stopped to reflect. Then she raised the revolver. It was a
mechanical, unintentional sort of action, and certainly she had no
intention of using the weapon, but, strange to say, Miss Spencer
again cowered before it. Even at that moment Nella wondered that
a woman like Miss Spencer could be so simple as to think the
revolver would actually be used. Having absolutely no physical
cowardice herself, Nella had the greatest difficulty in imagining
that other people could be at the mercy of a bodily fear. Still, she
saw her advantage, and used it relentlessly, and with as much
theatrical gesture as she could command. She raised the revolver
till it was level with Miss Spencer's face, and suddenly a new,
queer feeling took hold of her. She knew that she would indeed
use that revolver now, if the miserable woman before her drove
her too far. She felt afraid - afraid of herself; she was in the grasp
of a savage, primeval instinct. In a flash she saw Miss Spencer
dead at her feet - the police - a court of justice - the scaffold. It was
'Speak,' she said hoarsely, and Miss Spencer's face went whiter.
'Tom did say,' the woman whispered rapidly, awesomely, 'that if
Prince Eugen got to London it would upset his scheme.'
'What scheme? What scheme? Answer me.'
'Heaven help me, I don't know.' Miss Spencer sank into a chair. 'He
said Mr Dimmock had turned tail, and he should have to settle him
and then Rocco - '
'Rocco! What about Rocco?' Nella could scarcely hear herself. Her
grip of the revolver tightened.
Miss Spencer's eyes opened wider; she gazed at Nella with a glassy
'Don't ask me. It's death!' Her eyes were fixed as if in horror.
'It is,' said Nella, and the sound of her voice seemed to her to issue
from the lips of some third person.
'It's death,' repeated Miss Spencer, and gradually her head and
shoulders sank back, and hung loosely over the chair. Nella was
conscious of a sudden revulsion. The woman had surely fainted.
Dropping the revolver she ran round the table. She was herself
again - feminine, sympathetic, the old Nella. She felt immensely
relieved that this had happened. But at the same instant Miss
Spencer sprang up from the chair like a cat, seized the revolver,
and with a wild movement of the arm flung it against the window.
It crashed through the glass, exploding as it went, and there was a
'I told you that you were a fool,' remarked Miss Spencer slowly,
'coming here like a sort of female Jack Sheppard, and trying to get
the best of me.
We are on equal terms now. You frightened me, but I knew I was a
cleverer woman than you, and that in the end, if I kept on long
enough, I should win.
Now it will be my turn.'
Dumbfounded, and overcome with a miserable sense of the truth
of Miss Spencer's words, Nella stood still. The idea of her colossal
foolishness swept through her like a flood. She felt almost
ashamed. But even at this juncture she had no fear. She faced the
woman bravely, her mind leaping about in search of some plan.
She could think of nothing but a bribe - an enormous bribe.
'I admit you've won,' she said, 'but I've not finished yet. Just listen.'
Miss Spencer folded her arms, and glanced at the door, smiling
'You know my father is a millionaire; perhaps you know that he is
one of the richest men in the world. If I give you my word of
honour not to reveal anything that you've told me, what will you
take to let me go free?'
'What sum do you suggest?' asked Miss Spencer carelessly.
'Twenty thousand pounds,' said Nella promptly. She had begun to
regard the affair as a business operation.
Miss Spencer's lip curled.
'A hundred thousand.'
Again Miss Spencer's lip curled.
'Well, say a million. I can rely on my father, and so may you.'
'You think you are worth a million to him?'
'I do,' said Nella.
'And you think we could trust you to see that it was paid?'
'Of course you could.'
'And we should not suffer afterwards in any way?'
'I would give you my word, and my father's word.'
'Bah!' exclaimed Miss Spencer: 'how do you know I wouldn't let
you go free for nothing? You are only a rash, silly girl.'
'I know you wouldn't. I can read your face too well.'
'You are right,' Miss Spencer replied slowly. 'I wouldn't. I wouldn't
let you go for all the dollars in America.'
Nella felt cold down the spine, and sat down again in her chair. A
draught of air from the broken window blew on her cheek. Steps
sounded in the passage; the door opened, but Nella did not turn
round. She could not move her eyes from Miss Spencer's. There
was a noise of rushing water in her ears. She lost consciousness,
and slipped limply to the ground.
Chapter Ten AT SEA
IT seemed to Nella that she was being rocked gently in a vast
cradle, which swayed to and fro with a motion at once slow and
incredibly gentle. This sensation continued for some time, and
there was added to it the sound of a quick, quiet, muffled beat.
Soft, exhilarating breezes wafted her forward in spite of herself,
and yet she remained in a delicious calm. She wondered if her
mother was kneeling by her side, whispering some lullaby in her
childish ears. Then strange colours swam before her eyes, her
eyelids wavered, and at last she awoke. For a few moments her
gaze travelled to and fro in a vain search for some clue to her
surroundings. was aware of nothing except sense of repose and a
feeling of relief that some mighty and fatal struggle was over; she
cared not whether she had conquered or suffered defeat in the
struggle of her soul with some other soul; it was finished, done
with, and the consciousness of its conclusion satisfied and
contented her. Gradually her brain, recovering from its obsession,
began to grasp the phenomena of her surroundings, and she saw
that she was on a yacht, and that the yacht was moving. The
motion of the cradle was the smooth rolling of the vessel; the beat
was the beat of its screw; the strange colours were the cloud tints
thrown by the sun as it rose over a distant and receding shore in the
wake of the yacht; her mother's lullaby was the crooned song of
the man at the wheel. Nella all through her life had had many
experiences of yachting. From the waters of the River Hudson to
those bluer tides of the Mediterranean Sea, she had yachted in all
seasons and all weathers. She loved the water, and now it seemed
deliciously right and proper that she should be on the water again.
She raised her head to look round, and then let it sink back:
she was fatigued, enervated; she desired only solitude and calm;
she had no care, no anxiety, no responsibility: a hundred years
might have passed since her meeting with Miss Spencer, and the
memory of that meeting appeared to have faded into the remotest
background of her mind.
It was a small yacht, and her practised eye at once told that it
belonged to the highest aristocracy of pleasure craft. As she
reclined in the deck-chair (it did not occur to her at that moment to
speculate as to the identity of the person who had led her therein)
she examined all visible details of the vessel. The deck was as
white and smooth as her own hand, and the seams ran along its
length like blue veins. All the brass-work, from the band round the
slender funnel to the concave surface of the binnacle, shone like
The tapered masts stretched upwards at a rakish angle, and the
rigging seemed like spun silk. No sails were set; the yacht was
under steam, and doing about seven or eight knots. She judged that
it was a boat of a hundred tons or so, probably Clyde-built, and not
more than two or three years old.
No one was to be seen on deck except the man at the wheel: this
man wore a blue jersey; but there was neither name nor initial on
the jersey, nor was there a name on the white life-buoys lashed to
the main rigging, nor on the polished dinghy which hung on the
starboard davits. She called to the man, and called again, in a
feeble voice, but the steerer took no notice of her, and continued
his quiet song as though nothing else existed in the universe save
the yacht, the sea, the sun, and himself.
Then her eyes swept the outline of the land from which they were
hastening, and she could just distinguish a lighthouse and a great
white irregular dome, which she recognized as the Kursaal at
Ostend, that gorgeous rival of the gaming palace at Monte Carlo.
So she was leaving Ostend. The rays of the sun fell on her
caressingly, like a restorative. All around the water was changing
from wonderful greys and dark blues to still more wonderful pinks
and translucent unearthly greens; the magic kaleidoscope of dawn
was going forward in its accustomed way, regardless of the
vicissitudes of mortals.
Here and there in the distance she descried a sail - the brown sail
of some Ostend fishing-boat returning home after a night's
trawling. Then the beat of paddles caught her ear, and a steamer
blundered past, wallowing clumsily among the waves like a
tortoise. It was the Swallow from London. She could see some of
its passengers leaning curiously over the aft-rail. A girl in a
mackintosh signalled to her, and mechanically she answered the
salute with her arm. The officer of the bridge of the Swallow
hailed the yacht, but the man at the wheel offered no reply. In
another minute the Swallow was nothing but a blot in the distance.
Nella tried to sit straight in the deck-chair, but she found herself
unable to do so. Throwing off the rug which covered her, she
discovered that she had been tied to the chair by means of a piece
of broad webbing. Instantly she was alert, awake, angry; she knew
that her perils were not over; she felt that possibly they had
scarcely yet begun. Her lazy contentment, her dreamy sense of
peace and repose, vanished utterly, and she steeled herself to meet
the dangers of a grave and difficult situation.
Just at that moment a man came up from below. He was a man of
forty or so, clad in irreproachable blue, with a peaked yachting
cap. He raised the cap politely.
'Good morning,' he said. 'Beautiful sunrise, isn't it?' The clever and
calculated insolence of his tone cut her like a lash as she lay bound
in the chair. Like all people who have lived easy and joyous lives
in those fair regions where gold smoothes every crease and law
keeps a tight hand on disorder, she found it hard to realize that
there were other regions where gold was useless and law without
power. Twenty-four hours ago she would have declared it
impossible that such an experience as she had suffered could
happen to anyone; she would have talked airily about civilization
and the nineteenth century, and progress and the police. But her
experience was teaching her that human nature remains always the
same, and that beneath the thin crust of security on which we good
citizens exist the dark and secret forces of crime continue to move,
just as they did in the days when you couldn't go from Cheapside
to Chelsea without being set upon by thieves. Her experience was
in a fair way to teach her this lesson better than she could have
learnt it even in the bureaux of the detective police of Paris,
London, and St Petersburg.
'Good morning,' the man repeated, and she glanced at him with a
sullen, angry gaze.
'You!' she exclaimed, 'You, Mr Thomas Jackson, if that is your
name! Loose me from this chair, and I will talk to you.' Her eyes
flashed as she spoke, and the contempt in them added mightily to
her beauty. Mr Thomas Jackson, otherwise Jules, erstwhile head
waiter at the Grand Babylon, considered himself a connoisseur in
feminine loveliness, and the vision of Nella Racksole smote him
like an exquisite blow.
'With pleasure,' he replied. 'I had forgotten that to prevent you from
falling I had secured you to the chair'; and with a quick movement
he unfastened the band. Nella stood up, quivering with fiery
annoyance and scorn.
'Now,' she said, fronting him, 'what is the meaning of this?'
'You fainted,' he replied imperturbably. 'Perhaps you don't
The man offered her a deck-chair with a characteristic gesture.
Nella was obliged to acknowledge, in spite of herself, that the
fellow had distinction, an air of breeding. No one would have
guessed that for twenty years he had been an hotel waiter. His
long, lithe figure, and easy, careless carriage seemed to be the
figure and carriage of an aristocrat, and his voice was quiet,
restrained, and authoritative.
'That has nothing to do with my being carried off in this yacht of
'It is not my yacht,' he said, 'but that is a minor detail. As to the
more important matter, forgive me that I remind you that only a
few hours ago you were threatening a lady in my house with a
'Then it was your house?'
'Why not? May I not possess a house?' He smiled.
'I must request you to put the yacht about at once, instantly, and
take me back.' She tried to speak firmly.
'Ah!' he said, 'I am afraid that's impossible. I didn't put out to sea
with the intention of returning at once, instantly.' In the last words
he gave a faint imitation of her tone.
'When I do get back,' she said, 'when my father gets to know of this
affair, it will be an exceedingly bad day for you, Mr Jackson.'
'But supposing your father doesn't hear of it - '
'Supposing you never get back?'
'Do you mean, then, to have my murder on your conscience?'
'Talking of murder,' he said, 'you came very near to murdering my
friend, Miss Spencer. At least, so she tells me.'
'Is Miss Spencer on board?' Nella asked, seeing perhaps a faint ray
of hope in the possible presence of a woman.
'Miss Spencer is not on board. There is no one on board except you
and myself and a small crew - a very discreet crew, I may add.'
'I will have nothing more to say to you. You must take your own
Thanks for the permission,' he said. 'I will send you up some
He went to the saloon stairs and whistled, and a Negro boy
appeared with a tray of chocolate. Nella took it, and, without the
slightest hesitation, threw it overboard. Mr Jackson walked away a
few steps and then returned.
'You have spirit,' he said, 'and I admire spirit. It is a rare quality.'
She made no reply. 'Why did you mix yourself up in my affairs at
all?' he went on. Again she made no reply, but the question set her
thinking: why had she mixed herself up in this mysterious
business? It was quite at variance with the usual methods of her
gay and butterfly existence to meddle at all with serious things.
Had she acted merely from a desire to see justice done and
wickedness punished? Or was it the desire of adventure? Or was it,
perhaps, the desire to be of service to His Serene Highness Prince
Aribert? 'It is no fault of mine that you are in this fix,' Jules
continued. 'I didn't bring you into it. You brought yourself into it.
You and your father - you have been moving along at a pace which
is rather too rapid.'
'That remains to be seen,' she put in coldly.
'It does,' he admitted. 'And I repeat that I can't help admiring you -
that is, when you aren't interfering with my private affairs. That is
a proceeding which I have never tolerated from anyone - not even
from a millionaire, nor even from a beautiful woman.' He bowed. 'I
will tell you what I propose to do. I propose to escort you to a
place of safety, and to keep you there till my operations are
concluded, and the possibility of interference entirely removed.
You spoke just now of murder. What a crude notion that was of
yours! It is only the amateur who practises murder - '
'What about Reginald Dimmock?' she interjected quickly.
He paused gravely.
'Reginald Dimmock,' he repeated. 'I had imagined his was a case of
heart disease. Let me send you up some more chocolate. I'm sure
'I will starve before I touch your food,' she said.
'Gallant creature!' he murmured, and his eyes roved over her face.
Her superb, supercilious beauty overcame him. 'Ah!' he said, 'what
a wife you would make!' He approached nearer to her. 'You and I,
Miss Racksole, your beauty and wealth and my brains - we could
conquer the world. Few men are worthy of you, but I am one of the
few. Listen! You might do worse. Marry me. I am a great man; I
shall be greater. I adore you. Marry me, and I will save your life.
All shall be well. I will begin again. The past shall be as though
there had been no past.'
'This is somewhat sudden - Jules,' she said with biting contempt.
'Did you expect me to be conventional?' he retorted. 'I love you.'
'Granted,' she said, for the sake of the argument. 'Then what will
occur to your present wife?'
'My present wife?'
'Yes, Miss Spencer, as she is called.'
'She told you I was her husband?'
'Incidentally she did.'
'Perhaps she isn't. But, nevertheless, I think I won't marry you.'
Nella stood like a statue of scorn before him.
He went still nearer to her. 'Give me a kiss, then; one kiss - I won't
ask for more; one kiss from those lips, and you shall go free. Men
have ruined themselves for a kiss. I will.'
'Coward!' she ejaculated.
'Coward!' he repeated. 'Coward, am I? Then I'll be a coward, and
you shall kiss me whether you will or not.'
He put a hand on her shoulder. As she shrank back from his
lustrous eyes, with an involuntary scream, a figure sprang out of
the dinghy a few feet away. With a single blow, neatly directed to
Mr Jackson's ear, Mr Jackson was stretched senseless on the deck.
Prince Aribert of Posen stood over him with a revolver. It was
probably the greatest surprise of Mr Jackson's whole life.
'Don't be alarmed,' said the Prince to Nella, 'my being here is the
simplest thing in the world, and I will explain it as soon as I have
finished with this fellow.'
Nella could think of nothing to say, but she noticed the revolver in
the Prince's hand.
'Why,' she remarked, 'that's my revolver.'
'It is,' he said, 'and I will explain that, too.'
The man at the wheel gave no heed whatever to the scene.
Chapter Eleven THE COURT PAWNBROKER
'MR SAMPSON LEVI wishes to see you, sir.'
These words, spoken by a servant to Theodore Racksole, aroused
the millionaire from a reverie which had been the reverse of
pleasant. The fact was, and it is necessary to insist on it, that Mr
Racksole, owner of the Grand Babylon Hotel, was by no means in
a state of self-satisfaction. A mystery had attached itself to his
hotel, and with all his acumen and knowledge of things in general
he was unable to solve that mystery. He laughed at the fruitless
efforts of the police, but he could not honestly say that his own
efforts had been less barren. The public was talking, for, after all,
the disappearance of poor Dimmock's body had got noised abroad
in an indirect sort of way, and Theodore Racksole did not like the
idea of his impeccable hotel being the subject of sinister rumours.
He wondered, grimly, what the public and the Sunday newspapers
would say if they were aware of all the other phenomena, not yet
common property: of Miss Spencer's disappearance, of Jules'
strange visits, and of the non-arrival of Prince Eugen of Posen.
Theodore Racksole had worried his brain without result. He had
conducted an elaborate private investigation without result, and he
had spent a certain amount of money without result. The police
said that they had a clue; but Racksole remarked that it was always
the business of the police to have a clue, that they seldom had
more than a clue, and that a clue without some sequel to it was a
pretty stupid business. The only sure thing in the whole affair was
that a cloud rested over his hotel, his beautiful new toy, the finest
of its kind. The cloud was not interfering with business, but,
nevertheless, it was a cloud, and he fiercely resented its presence;
perhaps it would be more correct to say that he fiercely resented
his inability to dissipate it.
'Mr Sampson Levi wishes to see you, sir,' the servant repeated,
having received no sign that his master had heard him.
'So I hear,' said Racksole. 'Does he want to see me, personally?'
'He asked for you, sir.'
'Perhaps it is Rocco he wants to see, about a menu or something of
'I will inquire, sir,' and the servant made a move to withdraw.
'Stop,' Racksole commanded suddenly. 'Desire Mr Sampson Levi
to step this way.'
The great stockbroker of the 'Kaffir Circus' entered with a simple
unassuming air. He was a rather short, florid man, dressed like a
typical Hebraic financier, with too much watch-chain and too little
waistcoat. In his fat hand he held a gold-headed cane, and an
absolutely new silk hat - for it was Friday, and Mr Levi purchased
a new hat every Friday of his life, holiday times only excepted. He
breathed heavily and sniffed through his nose a good deal, as
though he had just performed some Herculean physical labour. He
glanced at the American millionaire with an expression in which a
slight embarrassment might have been detected, but at the same
time his round, red face disclosed a certain frank admiration and
'Mr Racksole, I believe - Mr Theodore Racksole. Proud to meet
Such were the first words of Mr Sampson Levi. In form they were
the greeting of a third-rate chimney-sweep, but, strangely enough,
Theodore Racksole liked their tone. He said to himself that here,
precisely where no one would have expected to find one, was an
'Good day,' said Racksole briefly. 'To what do I owe the pleasure - '
'I expect your time is limited,' answered Sampson Levi. 'Anyhow,
mine is, and so I'll come straight to the point, Mr Racksole. I'm a
plain man. I don't pretend to be a gentleman or any nonsense of
that kind. I'm a stockbroker, that's what I am, and I don't care who
knows it. The other night I had a ball in this hotel. It cost me a
couple of thousand and odd pounds, and, by the way, I wrote out a
cheque for your bill this morning. I don't like balls, but they're
useful to me, and my little wife likes 'em, and so we give 'em.
Now, I've nothing to say against the hotel management as regards
that ball: it was very decently done, very decently, but what I want
to know is this - Why did you have a private detective among my
'A private detective?' exclaimed Racksole, somewhat surprised at
'Yes,' Mr Sampson Levi said firmly, fanning himself in his chair,
and gazing at Theodore Racksole with the direct earnest
expression of a man having a grievance. 'Yes; a private detective.
It's a small matter, I know, and I dare say you think you've got a
right, as proprietor of the show, to do what you like in that line;
but I've just called to tell you that I object. I've called as a matter of
principle. I'm not angry; it's the principle of the thing.'
'My dear Mr Levi,' said Racksole, 'I assure you that, having let the
Gold Room to a private individual for a private entertainment, I
should never dream of doing what you suggest.'
'Straight?' asked Mr Sampson Levi, using his own picturesque
'Straight,' said Racksole smiling.
'There was a gent present at my ball that I didn't ask. I've got a
wonderful memory for faces, and I know. Several fellows asked
me afterwards what he was doing there. I was told by someone that
he was one of your waiters, but I didn't believe that. I know
nothing of the Grand Babylon; it's not quite my style of tavern, but
I don't think you'd send one of your own waiters to watch my
guests - unless, of course, you sent him as a waiter; and this chap
didn't do any waiting, though he did his share of drinking.'
'Perhaps I can throw some light on this mystery,' said Racksole. 'I
may tell you that I was already aware that man had attended your
'How did you get to know?'
'By pure chance, Mr Levi, and not by inquiry. That man was a
former waiter at this hotel - the head waiter, in fact - Jules. No
doubt you have heard of him.'
'Not I,' said Mr Levi positively.
'Ah!' said Racksole, 'I was informed that everyone knew Jules, but
it appears not. Well, be that as it may, previously to the night of
your ball, I had dismissed Jules. I had ordered him never to enter
the Babylon again.
But on that evening I encountered him here - not in the Gold
Room, but in the hotel itself. I asked him to explain his presence,
and he stated he was your guest. That is all I know of the matter,
Mr Levi, and I am extremely sorry that you should have thought
me capable of the enormity of placing a private detective among
'This is perfectly satisfactory to me,' Mr Sampson Levi said, after a
'I only wanted an explanation, and I've got it. I was told by some
pals of mine in the City I might rely on Mr Theodore Racksole
going straight to the point, and I'm glad they were right. Now as to
that feller Jules, I shall make my own inquiries as to him. Might I
ask you why you dismissed him?'
'I don't know why I dismissed him.'
'You don't know? Oh! come now! I'm only asking because I
thought you might be able to give me a hint why he turned up
uninvited at my ball. Sorry if I'm too inquisitive.'
'Not at all, Mr Levi; but I really don't know. I only sort of felt that
he was a suspicious character. I dismissed him on instinct, as it
Without answering this question Mr Levi asked another. 'If this
Jules is such a well-known person,' he said, 'how could the feller
hope to come to my ball without being recognized?'
'Give it up,' said Racksole promptly.
'Well, I'll be moving on,' was Mr Sampson Levi's next remark.
'Good day, and thank ye. I suppose you aren't doing anything in
Mr Racksole smiled a negative.
'I thought not,' said Levi. Well, I never touch American rails
myself, and so I reckon we sha'n't come across each other. Good
'Good day,' said Racksole politely, following Mr Sampson Levi to
With his hand on the handle of the door, Mr Levi stopped, and,
gazing at Theodore Racksole with a shrewd, quizzical expression,
'Strange things been going on here lately, eh?'
The two men looked very hard at each other for several seconds.
'Yes,' Racksole assented. 'Know anything about them?'
'Well - no, not exactly,' said Mr Levi. 'But I had a fancy you and I
might be useful to each other; I had a kind of fancy to that effect.'
'Come back and sit down again, Mr Levi,' Racksole said, attracted
by the evident straightforwardness of the man's tone. 'Now, how
can we be of service to each other? I flatter myself I'm something
of a judge of character, especially financial character, and I tell
you - if you'll put your cards on the table, I'll do ditto with mine.'
'Agreed,' said Mr Sampson Levi. 'I'll begin by explaining my
interest in your hotel. I have been expecting to receive a summons
from a certain Prince Eugen of Posen to attend him here, and that
summons hasn't arrived. It appears that Prince Eugen hasn't come
to London at all. Now, I could have taken my dying davy that he
would have been here yesterday at the latest.'
'Why were you so sure?'
'Question for question,' said Levi. 'Let's clear the ground first, Mr
Racksole. Why did you buy this hotel? That's a conundrum that's
been puzzling a lot of our fellows in the City for some days past.
Why did you buy the Grand Babylon? And what is the next move
'There is no next move,' answered Racksole candidly, 'and I will
tell you why I bought the hotel; there need be no secret about it. I
bought it because of a whim.' And then Theodore Racksole gave
this little Jew, whom he had begun to respect, a faithful account of
the transaction with Mr Felix Babylon. 'I suppose,' he added, 'you
find a difficulty in appreciating my state of mind when I did the
'Not a bit,' said Mr Levi. 'I once bought an electric launch on the
Thames in a very similar way, and it turned out to be one of the
most satisfactory purchases I ever made. Then it's a simple
accident that you own this hotel at the present moment?'
'A simple accident - all because of a beefsteak and a bottle of
'Um!' grunted Mr Sampson Levi, stroking his triple chin.
'To return to Prince Eugen,' Racksole resumed. 'I was expecting
His Highness here. The State apartments had been prepared for
him. He was due on the very afternoon that young Dimmock died.
But he never came, and I have not heard why he has failed to
arrive; nor have I seen his name in the papers. What his business
was in London, I don't know.'
'I will tell you,' said Mr Sampson Levi, 'he was coming to arrange a
'A State loan?'
'No - a private loan.'
'From me, Sampson Levi. You look surprised. If you'd lived in
London a little longer, you'd know that I was just the person the
Prince would come to. Perhaps you aren't aware that down
Throgmorton Street way I'm called "The Court Pawnbroker",
because I arrange loans for the minor, second-class Princes of
Europe. I'm a stockbroker, but my real business is financing some
of the little Courts of Europe. Now, I may tell you that the
Hereditary Prince of Posen particularly wanted a million, and he
wanted it by a certain date, and he knew that if the affair wasn't
fixed up by a certain time here he wouldn't be able to get it by that
certain date. That's why I'm surprised he isn't in London.'
'What did he need a million for?'
'Debts,' answered Sampson Levi laconically.
'But he isn't thirty years of age?'
'What of that? He isn't the only European Prince who has run up a
million of debts in a dozen years. To a Prince the thing is as easy
as eating a sandwich.'
'And why has he taken this sudden resolution to liquidate them?'
'Because the Emperor and the lady's parents won't let him marry
till he has done so! And quite right, too! He's got to show a clean
sheet, or the Princess Anna of Eckstein-Schwartzburg will never
be Princess of Posen. Even now the Emperor has no idea how
much Prince Eugen's debts amount to. If he had - !'
'But would not the Emperor know of this proposed loan?'
'Not necessarily at once. It could be so managed. Twig?' Mr
Sampson Levi laughed. 'I've carried these little affairs through
before. After marriage it might be allowed to leak out. And you
know the Princess Anna's fortune is pretty big! Now, Mr Racksole,'
he added, abruptly changing his tone, 'where do you suppose
Prince Eugen has disappeared to? Because if he doesn't turn up
to-day he can't have that million. To-day is the last day.
To-morrow the money will be appropriated, elsewhere. Of course,
I'm not alone in this business, and my friends have something to
'You ask me where I think Prince Eugen has disappeared to?'
'Then you think it's a disappearance?'
Sampson Levi nodded. 'Putting two and two together,' he said, 'I
do. The Dimmock business is very peculiar - very peculiar, indeed.
Dimmock was a left-handed relation of the Posen family. Twig?
Scarcely anyone knows that.
He was made secretary and companion to Prince Aribert, just to
keep him in the domestic circle. His mother was an Irishwoman,
whose misfortune was that she was too beautiful. Twig?' (Mr
Sampson Levi always used this extraordinary word when he was in
a communicative mood.) 'My belief is that Dimmock's death has
something to do with the disappearance of Prince Eugen.
The only thing that passes me is this: Why should anyone want to
make Prince Eugen disappear? The poor little Prince hasn't an
enemy in the world. If he's been "copped", as they say, why has he
been "copped"? It won't do anyone any good.'
'Won't it?' repeated Racksole, with a sudden flash.
'What do you mean?' asked Mr Levi.
'I mean this: Suppose some other European pauper Prince was
anxious to marry Princess Anna and her fortune, wouldn't that
Prince have an interest in stopping this loan of yours to Prince
Eugen? Wouldn't he have an interest in causing Prince Eugen to
disappear - at any rate, for a time?'
Sampson Levi thought hard for a few moments.
'Mr Theodore Racksole,' he said at length, 'I do believe you have
hit on something.'
Chapter Twelve ROCCO AND ROOM NO. 111
ON the afternoon of the same day - the interview just described
had occurred in the morning - Racksole was visited by another
idea, and he said to himself that he ought to have thought of it
before. The conversation with Mr Sampson Levi had continued for
a considerable time, and the two men had exchanged various
notions, and agreed to meet again, but the theory that Reginald
Dimmock had probably been a traitor to his family - a traitor
whose repentance had caused his death - had not been thoroughly
discussed; the talk had tended rather to Continental politics, with a
view to discovering what princely family might have an interest in
the temporary disappearance of Prince Eugen. Now, as Racksole
considered in detail the particular affair of Reginald Dimmock,
deceased, he was struck by one point especially, to wit: Why had
Dimmock and Jules manoeuvred to turn Nella Racksole out of
Room No. 111 on that first night? That they had so manoeuvred,
that the broken window-pane was not a mere accident, Racksole
felt perfectly sure. He had felt perfectly sure all along; but the
significance of the facts had not struck him. It was plain to him
now that there must be something of extraordinary and peculiar
importance about Room No. 111. After lunch he wandered quietly
upstairs and looked at Room No. 111; that is to say, he looked at
the outside of it; it happened to be occupied, but the guest was
leaving that evening. The thought crossed his mind that there
could be no object in gazing blankly at the outside of a room; yet
he gazed; then he wandered quickly down again to the next floor,
and in passing along the corridor of that floor he stopped, and with
an involuntary gesture stamped his foot.
'Great Scott!' he said, 'I've got hold of something - No. 111 is
exactly over the State apartments.'
He went to the bureau, and issued instructions that No. 111 was
not to be re-let to anyone until further orders. At the bureau they
gave him Nella's note, which ran thus:
Dearest Papa, - I am going away for a day or two on the trail of a
If I'm not back in three days, begin to inquire for me at Ostend. Till
then leave me alone. - Your sagacious daughter, NELL.
These few words, in Nella's large scrawling hand, filled one side of
the paper. At the bottom was a P.T.O. He turned over, and read the
sentence, underlined, 'P.S. - Keep an eye on Rocco.'
'I wonder what the little creature is up to?' he murmured, as he tore
the letter into small fragments, and threw them into the
Then, without any delay, he took the lift down to the basement,
with the object of making a preliminary inspection of Rocco in his
lair. He could scarcely bring himself to believe that this suave and
stately gentleman, this enthusiast of gastronomy, was concerned in
the machinations of Jules and other rascals unknown.
Nevertheless, from habit, he obeyed his daughter, giving her credit
for a certain amount of perspicuity and cleverness.
The kitchens of the Grand Babylon Hotel are one of the wonders
Only three years before the events now under narration Felix
Babylon had had them newly installed with every device and
patent that the ingenuity of two continents could supply. They
covered nearly an acre of superficial space.
They were walled and floored from end to end with tiles and
marble, which enabled them to be washed down every morning
like the deck of a man-of-war.
Visitors were sometimes taken to see the potato-paring machine,
the patent plate-dryer, the Babylon-spit (a contrivance of Felix
Babylon's own), the silver-grill, the system of connected
stock-pots, and other amazing phenomena of the department.
Sometimes, if they were fortunate, they might also see the artist
who sculptured ice into forms of men and beasts for table
ornaments, or the first napkin-folder in London, or the man who
daily invented fresh designs for pastry and blancmanges. Twelve
chefs pursued their labours in those kitchens, helped by ninety
assistant chefs, and a further army of unconsidered menials. Over
all these was Rocco, supreme and unapproachable. Half-way along
the suite of kitchens, Rocco had an apartment of his own, wherein
he thought out those magnificent combinations, those marvellous
feats of succulence and originality, which had given him his fame.
Vistors never caught a glimpse of Rocco in the kitchens, though
sometimes, on a special night, he would stroll nonchalantly
through the dining-room, like the great man he was, to receive the
compliments of the hotel habitu�s - people of insight who
recognized his uniqueness.
Theodore Racksole's sudden and unusual appearance in the kitchen
caused a little stir. He nodded to some of the chefs, but said
nothing to anyone, merely wandering about amid the maze of
copper utensils, and white-capped workers. At length he saw
Rocco, surrounded by several admiring chefs. Rocco was bending
over a freshly-roasted partridge which lay on a blue dish. He
plunged a long fork into the back of the bird, and raised it in the
air with his left hand. In his right he held a long glittering
carving-knife. He was giving one of his world-famous exhibitions
of carving. In four swift, unerring, delicate, perfect strokes he
cleanly severed the limbs of the partridge. It was a wonderful
achievement - how wondrous none but the really skilful carver can
properly appreciate. The chefs emitted a hum of applause, and
Rocco, long, lean, and graceful, retired to his own apartment.
Racksole followed him. Rocco sat in a chair, one hand over his
eyes; he had not noticed Theodore Racksole.
'What are you doing, M. Rocco?' the millionaire asked smiling.
exclaimed Rocco, starting up with an apology. 'Pardon! I was
inventing a new mayonnaise, which I shall need for a certain menu
'Do you invent these things without materials, then?' questioned
'Certainly. I do dem in my mind. I tink dem. Why should I want
materials? I know all flavours. I tink, and tink, and tink, and it is
done. I write down.
I give the recipe to my best chef - dere you are. I need not even
taste, I know how it will taste. It is like composing music. De great
composers do not compose at de piano.'
'I see,' said Racksole.
'It is because I work like dat dat you pay me three thousand a year,'
Rocco added gravely.
'Heard about Jules?' said Racksole abruptly.
'Yes. He's been arrested in Ostend,' the millionaire continued, lying
cleverly at a venture. 'They say that he and several others are
implicated in a murder case - the murder of Reginald Dimmock.'
'Truly?' drawled Rocco, scarcely hiding a yawn. His indifference
was so superb, so gorgeous, that Racksole instantly divined that it
was assumed for the occasion.
'It seems that, after all, the police are good for something. But this
is the first time I ever knew them to be worth their salt. There is to
be a thorough and systematic search of the hotel to-morrow,'
Racksole went on. 'I have mentioned it to you to warn you that so
far as you are concerned the search is of course merely a matter of
form. You will not object to the detectives looking through your
'Certainly not,' and Rocco shrugged his shoulders.
'I shall ask you to say nothing about this to anyone,' said Racksole.
'The news of Jules' arrest is quite private to myself. The papers
know nothing of it. You comprehend?'
Rocco smiled in his grand manner, and Rocco's master thereupon
Racksole was very well satisfied with the little conversation. It was
perhaps dangerous to tell a series of mere lies to a clever fellow
like Rocco, and Racksole wondered how he should ultimately
explain them to this great master-chef if his and Nella's suspicions
should be unfounded, and nothing came of them. Nevertheless,
Rocco's manner, a strange elusive something in the man's eyes, had
nearly convinced Racksole that he was somehow implicated in
Jules' schemes - and probably in the death of Reginald Dimmock
and the disappearance of Prince Eugen of Posen.
That night, or rather about half-past one the next morning, when
the last noises of the hotel's life had died down, Racksole made his
way to Room 111 on the second floor. He locked the door on the
inside, and proceeded to examine the place, square foot by square
foot. Every now and then some creak or other sound startled him,
and he listened intently for a few seconds. The bedroom was
furnished in the ordinary splendid style of bedrooms at the Grand
Babylon Hotel, and in that respect called for no remark. What most
interested Racksole was the flooring. He pulled up the thick
Oriental carpet, and peered along every plank, but could discover
Then he went to the dressing-room, and finally to the bathroom,
both of which opened out of the main room. But in neither of these
smaller chambers was he any more successful than in the bedroom
itself. Finally he came to the bath, which was enclosed in a
panelled casing of polished wood, after the manner of baths. Some
baths have a cupboard beneath the taps, with a door at the side, but
this one appeared to have none. He tapped the panels, but not a
single one of them gave forth that 'curious hollow sound' which
usually betokens a secret place. Idly he turned the cold-tap of the
bath, and the water began to rush in. He turned off the cold-tap and
turned on the waste-tap, and as he did so his knee, which was
pressing against the panelling, slipped forward. The panelling had
given way, and he saw that one large panel was hinged from the
inside, and caught with a hasp, also on the inside. A large space
within the casing of the end of the bath was thus revealed. Before
doing anything else, Racksole tried to repeat the trick with the
waste-tap, but he failed; it would not work again, nor could he in
any way perceive that there was any connection between the rod of
the waste-tap and the hasp of the panel. Racksole could not see
into the cavity within the casing, and the electric light was fixed,
and could not be moved about like a candle. He felt in his pockets,
and fortunately discovered a box of matches. Aided by these, he
looked into the cavity, and saw nothing; nothing except a rather
large hole at the far end - some three feet from the casing. With
some difficulty he squeezed himself through the open panel, and
took a half-kneeling, half-sitting posture within. There he struck a
match, and it was a most unfortunate thing that in striking, the box
being half open, he set fire to all the matches, and was half
smothered in the atrocious stink of phosphorus which resulted.
One match burned clear on the floor of the cavity, and, rubbing his
eyes, Racksole picked it up, and looked down the hole which he
had previously descried. It was a hole apparently bottomless, and
about eighteen inches square. The curious part about the hole was
that a rope-ladder hung down it. When he saw that rope-ladder
Racksole smiled the smile of a happy man.
The match went out.
Should he make a long journey, perhaps to some distant corner of
the hotel, for a fresh box of matches, or should he attempt to
descend that rope-ladder in the dark? He decided on the latter
course, and he was the more strongly moved thereto as he could
now distinguish a faint, a very faint tinge of light at the bottom of
With infinite care he compressed himself into the well-like hole,
and descended the latter. At length he arrived on firm ground,
perspiring, but quite safe and quite excited. He saw now that the
tinge of light came through a small hole in the wood. He put his
eye to the wood, and found that he had a fine view of the State
bathroom, and through the door of the State bathroom into the
State bedroom. At the massive marble-topped washstand in the
State bedroom a man was visible, bending over some object which
The man was Rocco!
Chapter Thirteen IN THE STATE BEDROOM
IT was of course plain to Racksole that the peculiar passageway
which he had, at great personal inconvenience, discovered between
the bathroom of No. 111 and the State bathroom on the floor
below must have been specially designed by some person or
persons for the purpose of keeping a nefarious watch upon the
occupants of the State suite of apartments. It was a means of
communication at once simple and ingenious. At that moment he
could not be sure of the precise method employed for it, but he
surmised that the casing of the waterpipes had been used as a
'well', while space for the pipes themselves had been found in the
thickness of the ample brick walls of the Grand Babylon. The
eye-hole, through which he now had a view of the bedroom, was a
very minute one, and probably would scarcely be noticed from the
exterior. One thing he observed concerning it, namely, that it had
been made for a man somewhat taller than himself; he was obliged
to stand on tiptoe in order to get his eye in the correct position. He
remembered that both Jules and Rocco were distinctly above the
average height; also that they were both thin men, and could have
descended the well with comparative ease. Theodore Racksole,
though not stout, was a well-set man with large bones.
These things flashed through his mind as he gazed, spellbound, at
the mysterious movements of Rocco. The door between the
bathroom and the bedroom was wide open, and his own situation
was such that his view embraced a considerable portion of the
bedroom, including the whole of the immense and
gorgeously-upholstered bedstead, but not including the whole of
the marble washstand. He could see only half of the washstand,
and at intervals Rocco passed out of sight as his lithe hands moved
over the object which lay on the marble. At first Theodore
Racksole could not decide what this object was, but after a time, as
his eyes grew accustomed to the position and the light, he made it
It was the body of a man. Or, rather, to be more exact, Racksole
could discern the legs of a man on that half of the table which was
visible to him. Involuntarily he shuddered, as the conviction forced
itself upon him that Rocco had some unconscious human being
helpless on that cold marble surface. The legs never moved.
Therefore, the hapless creature was either asleep or under the
influence of an anaesthetic - or (horrible thought!) dead.
Racksole wanted to call out, to stop by some means or other the
dreadful midnight activity which was proceeding before his
astonished eyes; but fortunately he restrained himself.
On the washstand he could see certain strangely-shaped utensils
and instruments which Rocco used from time to time. The work
seemed to Racksole to continue for interminable hours, and then at
last Rocco ceased, gave a sign of satisfaction, whistled several bars
from 'Cavalleria Rusticana', and came into the bath-room, where
he took off his coat, and very quietly washed his hands. As he
stood calmly and leisurely wiping those long fingers of his, he was
less than four feet from Racksole, and the cooped-up millionaire
trembled, holding his breath, lest Rocco should detect his presence
behind the woodwork. But nothing happened, and Rocco returned
unsuspectingly to the bedroom. Racksole saw him place some sort
of white flannel garment over the prone form on the table, and
then lift it bodily on to the great bed, where it lay awfully still. The
hidden watcher was sure now that it was a corpse upon which
Rocco had been exercising his mysterious and sinister functions.
But whose corpse? And what functions? Could this be a West End
hotel, Racksole's own hotel, in the very heart of London, the
best-policed city in the world? It seemed incredible, impossible;
yet so it was. Once more he remembered what Felix Babylon had
said to him and realized the truth of the saying anew. The
proprietor of a vast and complicated establishment like the Grand
Babylon could never know a tithe of the extraordinary and queer
occurrences which happened daily under his very nose; the
atmosphere of such a caravanserai must necessarily be an
atmosphere of mystery and problems apparently inexplicable.
Nevertheless, Racksole thought that Fate was carrying things with
rather a high hand when she permitted his chef to spend the night
hours over a man's corpse in his State bedroom, this sacred
apartment which was supposed to be occupied only by individuals
of Royal Blood. Racksole would not have objected to a certain
amount of mystery, but he decidedly thought that there was a little
too much mystery here for his taste. He thought that even Felix
Babylon would have been surprised at this.
The electric chandelier in the centre of the ceiling was not lighted;
only the two lights on either side of the washstand were switched
on, and these did not sufficiently illuminate the features of the man
on the bed to enable Racksole to see them clearly. In vain the
millionaire strained his eyes; he could only make out that the
corpse was probably that of a young man. Just as he was
wondering what would be the best course of action to pursue, he
saw Rocco with a square-shaped black box in his hand. Then the
chef switched off the two electric lights, and the State bedroom
was in darkness. In that swift darkness Racksole heard Rocco
spring on to the bed. Another half-dozen moments of suspense,
and there was a blinding flash of white, which endured for several
seconds, and showed Rocco standing like an evil spirit over the
corpse, the black box in one hand and a burning piece of
aluminium wire in the other. The aluminium wire burnt out, and
darkness followed blacker than before.
Rocco had photographed the corpse by flashlight.
But the dazzling flare which had disclosed the features of the dead
man to the insensible lens of the camera had disclosed them also
to Theodore Racksole. The dead man was Reginald Dimmock!
Stung into action by this discovery, Racksole tried to find the exit
from his place of concealment. He felt sure that there existed some
way out into the State bathroom, but he sought for it fruitlessly,
groping with both hands and feet. Then he decided that he must
ascend the rope-ladder, make haste for the first-floor corridor, and
intercept Rocco when he left the State apartments. It was a painful
and difficult business to ascend that thin and yielding ladder in
such a confined space, but Racksole was managing it very nicely,
and had nearly reached the top, when, by some untoward freak of
chance, the ladder broke above his weight, and he slipped
ignominiously down to the bottom of the wooden tube. Smothering
an excusable curse, Racksole crouched, baffled. Then he saw that
the force of his fall had somehow opened a trap-door at his feet.
He squeezed through, pushed open another tiny door, and in
another second stood in the State bathroom. He was dishevelled,
perspiring, rather bewildered; but he was there. In the next second
he had resumed absolute command of all his faculties.
Strange to say, he had moved so quietly that Rocco had apparently
not heard him. He stepped noiselessly to the door between the
bathroom and the bedroom, and stood there in silence. Rocco had
switched on again the lights over the washstand and was busy with
Racksole deliberately coughed.
Chapter Fourteen ROCCO ANSWERS SOME QUESTIONS
ROCCO turned round with the swiftness of a startled tiger, and
gave Theodore Racksole one long piercing glance.
'D--n!' said Rocco, with as pure an Anglo-Saxon accent and
intonation as Racksole himself could have accomplished.
The most extraordinary thing about the situation was that at this
juncture Theodore Racksole did not know what to say. He was so
dumbfounded by the affair, and especially by Rocco's absolute and
sublime calm, that both speech and thought failed him.
'I give in,' said Rocco. 'From the moment you entered this cursed
hotel I was afraid of you. I told Jules I was afraid of you. I knew
there would be trouble with a man of your kidney, and I was right;
confound it! I tell you I give in. I know when I'm beaten. I've got
no revolver and no weapons of any kind. I surrender. Do what you
And with that Rocco sat down on a chair. It was magnificently
done. Only a truly great man could have done it. Rocco actually
kept his dignity.
For answer, Racksole walked slowly into the vast apartment,
seized a chair, and, dragging it up to Rocco's chair, sat down
opposite to him. Thus they faced each other, their knees almost
touching, both in evening dress. On Rocco's right hand was the
bed, with the corpse of Reginald Dimmock. On Racksole's right
hand, and a little behind him, was the marble washstand, still
littered with Rocco's implements. The electric light shone on
Rocco's left cheek, leaving the other side of his face in shadow.
Racksole tapped him on the knee twice.
'So you're another Englishman masquerading as a foreigner in my
Racksole remarked, by way of commencing the interrogation.
'I'm not,' answered Rocco quietly. 'I'm a citizen of the United
'The deuce you are!' Racksole exclaimed.
'Yes, I was born at West Orange, New Jersey, New York State. I
call myself an Italian because it was in Italy that I first made a
name as a chef - at Rome. It is better for a great chef like me to be
a foreigner. Imagine a great chef named Elihu P. Rucker. You can't
imagine it. I changed my nationality for the same reason that my
friend and colleague, Jules, otherwise Mr Jackson, changed his.'
'So Jules is your friend and colleague, is he?'
'He was, but from this moment he is no longer. I began to
disapprove of his methods no less than a week ago, and my
disapproval will now take active form.'
'Will it?' said Racksole. 'I calculate it just won't, Mr Elihu P.
Rucker, citizen of the United States. Before you are very much
older you'll be in the kind hands of the police, and your activities,
in no matter what direction, will come to an abrupt conclusion.'
'It is possible,' sighed Rocco.
'In the meantime, I'll ask you one or two questions for my own
private satisfaction. You've acknowledged that the game is up, and
you may as well answer them with as much candour as you feel
yourself capable of. See?'
'I see,' replied Rocco calmly, 'but I guess I can't answer all
I'll do what I can.'
'Well,' said Racksole, clearing his throat, 'what's the scheme all
about? Tell me in a word.'
'Not in a thousand words. It isn't my secret, you know.'
'Why was poor little Dimmock poisoned?' The millionaire's voice
softened as he looked for an instant at the corpse of the
unfortunate young man.