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The Lone Wolf by Louis Joseph Vance

Part 3 out of 6

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It was her plight that perturbed him, from which he sought an
outlet--never his own.

Yet his own was desperate enough....

Baffled and uneasy, he at length bethought him of his watch. But its
testimony seemed incredible: surely the hour could not be five in the
afternoon!--surely he could not have slept so close upon a full round
of the clock!

And if it were so, what of the girl? Had she, too, so sorely needed
sleep that the brief November day had dawned and waned without her

That question was one to rouse him: in an instant he was up and groping
his way through the gloom that enshrouded bed-chamber and dining-room
to the staircase door in the hall. He found this fast enough, its key
still safe in his pocket, and unlocking it quietly, shot the beam of
his flash-lamp up that dark well to the door at the top; which was
tight shut.

For several moments he attended to a taciturn silence broken by never a
sound to indicate that he wasn't a lonely tenant of the little
dwelling, then irresolutely lifted a foot to the first step--and
withdrew it. If she continued to sleep, why disturb her? He had much to
do in the way of thinking things out; and that was a process more
easily performed in solitude.

Leaving the door ajar, then, he turned to one of the front windows,
parted its draperies, and peered out, over the little garden and
through the iron ribs of the gate, to the street, where a single
gas-lamp, glimmering within a dull golden halo of mist, made visible
the scant length of the impasse Stanislas, empty, rain-swept, desolate.

The rain persisted with no hint of failing purpose....

Something in the dreary emptiness of that brief vista deepened the
shadow in his mood and knitted a careworn frown into his brows.

Abstractedly he sought the kitchen and, making a light, washed up at
the tap, then foraged for breakfast. Persistence turned up a
spirit-stove, a half-bottle of methylated, a packet of tea, a tin or
two of biscuit, as many more of potted meats: left-overs from the
artist's stock, dismally scant and uninviting in array. With these he
made the discovery that he was half-famished, and found no reason to
believe that the girl would be in any better case. An expedition to the
nearest charcuterie was indicated; but after he had searched for and
found an old raincoat of Solon's, Lanyard decided against leaving the
girl alone. Pending her appearance, he filled the spirit-stove, put the
kettle on to boil, and lighting a cigarette, sat himself down to watch
the pot and excogitate his several problems.

In a fashion uncommonly clear-headed, even for him, he assembled all
the facts bearing upon their predicament, his and Lucia Bannon's,
jointly and individually, and dispassionately pondered them....

But insensibly his thoughts reverted to their exotic phase of his
awakening, drifting into such introspection as he seldom indulged, and
led him far from the immediate riddle, by strange ways to a revelation
altogether unpresaged and a resolve still more revolutionary.

A look of wonder flickered in his brooding eyes; and clipped between
two fingers, his cigarette grew a long ash, let it fall, and burned
down to a stump so short that the coal almost scorched his flesh. He
dropped it and crushed out the fire with his heel, all unwittingly.

Slowly but irresistibly his world was turning over beneath his feet....

The sound of a footfall recalled him as from an immeasurable remove; he
looked up to see Lucia at pause upon the threshold, and rose slowly,
with effort recollecting himself and marshalling his wits against the
emergency foreshadowed by her attitude.

Tense with indignation, quick with disdain, she demanded, without any
preface whatever: "Why did you lock me in?"

He stammered unhappily: "I beg your pardon--"

"Why did you lock me in?"

"I'm sorry--"

"Why did you--"

But she interrupted herself to stamp her foot emphatically; and he
caught her up on the echo of that:

"If you must know, because I wasn't trusting you."

Her eyes darkened ominously: "Yet you insisted I should trust you!"

"The circumstances aren't parallel: you're not a notorious malefactor,
wanted by the police of every capital in Europe, hounded by rivals to
boot--fighting for life, liberty and"--he laughed shortly--"the
pursuit of happiness!"

She caught her breath sharply--whether with dismay or mere surprise at
his frankness he couldn't tell.

"Are you?" she demanded quickly.

"Am I what?"

"What you've just said--"

"A crook--and all that? Miss Bannon, you know it!"

"The Lone Wolf?"

"You've known it all along. De Morbihan told you--or else your father.
Or, it may be, you were shrewd enough to guess it from De Morbihan's
bragging in the restaurant. At all events, it's plain enough, nothing
but desire to find proof to identify me with the Lone Wolf took you to
my room last night--whether for your personal satisfaction or at the
instigation of Bannon--just as nothing less than disgust with what was
going on made you run away from such intolerable associations....
Though, at that, I don't believe you even guessed how unspeakably
vicious those were!"

He paused and waited, anticipating furious denial or refutation; such
would, indeed, have been the logical development of the temper in which
she had come down to confront him.

Rather than this, she seemed calmed and sobered by his charge; far from
resenting it, disposed to concede its justice; anger deserted her
expression, leaving it intent and grave. She came quietly into the room
and faced him squarely across the table.

"You thought all that of me--that I was capable of spying on you--yet
were generous enough to believe I despised myself for doing it?"

"Not at first.... At first, when we met back there in the corridor, I
was sure you were bent on further spying. Only since waking up here,
half an hour ago, did I begin to understand how impossible it would be
for you to lend yourself to such villainy as last night's."

"But if you thought that of me then, why did you--?"

"It occurred to me that it would be just as well to prevent your
reporting back to headquarters."

"But now you've changed your mind about me?"

He nodded: "Quite."

"But why?" she demanded in a voice of amazement. "Why?"

"I can't tell you," he said slowly--"I don't know why. I can only presume
it must be because--I can't help believing in you."

Her glance wavered: her colour deepened. "I don't understand..." she

"Nor I," he confessed in a tone as low....

A sudden grumble from the teakettle provided welcome distraction.
Lanyard lifted it off the flames and slowly poured boiling water on a
measure of tea in an earthenware pot.

"A cup of this and something to eat'll do us no harm," he ventured,
smiling uneasily--"especially if we're to pursue this psychological
enquiry into the whereforeness of the human tendency to change one's



And then, when the girl made no response, but remained with troubled
gaze focused on some remote abstraction, "You will have tea, won't
you?" he urged.

She recalled her thoughts, nodded with the faintest of smiles--"Yes,
thank you!"--and dropped into a chair.

He began at once to make talk in effort to dissipate that constraint
which stood between them like an unseen alien presence: "You must be
very hungry?"

"I am."

"Sorry I've nothing better to offer you. I'd have run out for something
more substantial, only--"

"Only--?" she prompted, coolly helping herself to biscuit and potted

"I didn't think it wise to leave you alone."

"Was that before or after you'd made up your mind about me--the latest
phase, I mean?" she persisted with a trace of malice.

"Before," he returned calmly--"likewise, afterwards. Either way you
care to take it, it wouldn't have been wise to leave you here. Suppose
you had waked up to find me gone, yourself alone in this strange

"I've been awake several hours," she interposed--"found myself locked
in, and heard no sound to indicate that you were still here."

"I'm sorry: I was overtired and slept like a log.... But assuming the
case: you would have gone out, alone, penniless--"

"Through a locked door, Mr. Lanyard?"

"I shouldn't have left it locked," he explained patiently.... "You
would have found yourself friendless and without resources in a city to
which you are a stranger."

She nodded: "True. But what of that?"

"In desperation you might have been forced to go back--"

"And report the outcome of my investigation!"

"Pressure might have been brought to induce admissions damaging to me,"
Lanyard submitted pleasantly. "Whether or no, you'd have been obliged
to renew associations you're well rid of."

"You feel sure of that?"

"But naturally."

"How can you be?" she challenged. "You've yet to know me twenty-four

"But perhaps I know the associations better. In point of fact, I do.
Even though you may have stooped to play the spy last night, Miss
Bannon--you couldn't keep it up. You had to fly further contamination
from that pack of jackals."

"Not--you feel sure--merely to keep you under observation?"

"I do feel sure of that. I have your word for it."

The girl deliberately finished her tea, and sat back, regarding him
steadily beneath level brows. Then she said with an odd laugh: "You
have your own way of putting one on honour!"

"I don't need to--with you."

She analyzed this with gathering perplexity. "What do you mean by

"I mean, I don't need to put you on your honour--because I'm sure of
you. Even were I not, still I'd refrain from exacting any pledge, or
attempting to." He paused and shrugged before continuing: "If I thought
you were still to be distrusted, Miss Bannon, I'd say: 'There's a free
door; go when you like, back to the Pack, turn in your report, and let
them act as they see fit.'... Do you think I care for them? Do you
imagine for one instant that I fear any one--or all--of that gang?"

"That rings suspiciously of egoism!"

"Let it," he retorted. "It's pride of caste, if you must know. I hold
myself a grade better than such cattle; I've intelligence, at least....
I can take care of myself!"

If he might read her countenance, it expressed more than anything else
distress and disappointment.

"Why do you boast like this--to me?"

"Less through self-satisfaction than in contempt for a pack of
murderous mongrels--impatience that I have to consider such creatures
as Popinot, Wertheimer, De Morbiban and--all their crew."

"And Bannon," she corrected calmly--"you meant to say!"

"Wel-l--" he stammered, discountenanced.

"It doesn't matter," she assured him. "I quite understand, and strange
as it may sound, I've very little feeling in the matter." And then she
acknowledged his stupefied stare with a weary smile. "I know what I
know," she added, with obscure significance....

"I'd give a good deal to know how much you know,"
he muttered in his confusion.

"But what do _you_ know?" she caught him up--"against Mr.
Bannon--against my father, that is--that makes you so ready to suspect
both him and me?"

"Nothing," he confessed--"I know nothing; but I suspect everything and
everybody.... And the more I think of it, the more closely I examine
that brutal business of last night, the more I seem to sense his will
behind it all--as one might glimpse a face in darkness through a
lighted lattice.... Oh, laugh if you like! It sounds high-flown, I
know. But that's the effect I get.... What took you to my room, if not
his orders? Why does he train with De Morbihan, if he's not blood-kin
to that breed? Why are you running away from him if not because you've
found out his part in that conspiracy?"

His pause and questioning look evoked no answer; the girl sat moveless
and intent, meeting his gaze inscrutably. And something in her
impassive attitude worked a little exasperation into his temper.

"Why," he declared hotly--"if I dare trust to intuition--forgive me if
I pain you--"

She interrupted with impatience: "I've already begged you not to
consider my feelings, Mr. Lanyard! If you dared trust to your
intuition--what then?"

"Why, then, I could believe that Mr. Bannon, your father ... I could
believe it was his order that killed poor Roddy!"

There could be no doubting her horrified and half-incredulous surprise.

"Roddy?" she iterated in a whisper almost inaudible, with face fast
blanching. "Roddy--!"

"Inspector Roddy of Scotland Yard," he told her mercilessly, "was
murdered in his sleep last night at Troyon's. The murderer broke into
his room by way of mine--the two adjoin. He used my razor, wore my
dressing-gown to shield his clothing, did everything he could think of
to cast suspicion on me, and when I came in assaulted me, meaning to
drug and leave me insensible to be found by the police. Fortunately--I
was beforehand with him. I had just left him drugged, insensible in my
place, when I met you in the corridor.... You didn't know?"

"How can you ask?" the girl moaned.

Bending forward, an elbow on the table, she worked her hands together
until their knuckles shone white through the skin--but not as white as
the face from which her eyes sought his with a look of dumb horror,
dazed, pitiful, imploring.

"You're not deceiving me? But no--why should you?" she faltered. "But
how terrible, how unspeakably awful! ..."

"I'm sorry," Lanyard mumbled--"I'd have held my tongue if I hadn't
thought you knew--"

"You thought I knew--and didn't lift a finger to save the man?" She
jumped up with a blazing face. "Oh, how could you?"

"No--not that--I never thought that. But, meeting you then and there,
so opportunely--I couldn't ignore the coincidence; and when you
admitted you were running away from your father, considering all the
circumstances, I was surely justified in thinking it was realization,
in part at least, of what had happened that was driving you away."
She shook her head slowly, her indignation ebbing as quickly as it had
risen. "I understand," she said; "you had some excuse, but you were
mistaken. I ran away--yes--but not because of that. I never
dreamed ..."

She fell silent, sitting with bowed head and twisting her hands
together in a manner he found it painful to watch.

"But please," he implored, "don't take it so much to heart, Miss
Bannon. If you knew nothing, you couldn't have prevented it."

"No," she said brokenly--"I could have done nothing ... But I
didn't know. It isn't that--it's the horror and pity of it. And that
you could think--!"

"But I didn't!" he protested--"truly I did not. And for what I did
think, for the injustice I did do you, believe me, I'm truly sorry."

"You were quite justified," she said--"not only by circumstantial
evidence but to a degree in fact. You must know ... now I must tell
you ..."

"Nothing you don't wish to!" he interrupted. "The fact that I
practically kidnapped you under pretence of doing you a service, and
suspected you of being in the pay of that Pack, gives me no title to
your confidence."

"Can I blame you for thinking what you did?" She went on slowly,
without looking up--gaze steadfast to her interlaced fingers: "Now for
my own sake I want you to know what otherwise, perhaps, I shouldn't
have told you--not yet, at all events. I'm no more Bannon's daughter
than you're his son. Our names sound alike--people frequently make
the same mistake. My name is Shannon--Lucy Shannon. Mr. Bannon
called me Lucia because he knew I didn't like it, to tease me; for
the same reason he always kept up the pretence that I was his daughter
when people misunderstood."

"But--if that is so--then what--?"

"Why--it's very simple." Still she didn't look up. "I'm a trained
nurse. Mr. Bannon is consumptive--so far gone, it's a wonder he
didn't die years ago: for months I've been haunted by the thought that
it's only the evil in him keeps him alive. It wasn't long after I took
the assignment to nurse him that I found out something about him....
He'd had a haemorrhage at his desk; and while he lay in coma, and I
was waiting for the doctor, I happened to notice one of the papers he'd
been working over when he fell. And then, just as I began to appreciate
the sort of man I was employed by, he came to, and saw--and knew. I
found him watching me with those dreadful eyes of his, and though he
was unable to speak, knew my life wasn't safe if ever I breathed a word
of what I had read. I would have left him then, but he was too cunning
for me, and when in time I found a chance to escape--I was afraid I'd
not live long if ever I left him. He went about it deliberately; to
keep me frightened, and though he never mentioned the matter directly,
let me know plainly, in a hundred ways, what his power was and what
would happen if I whispered a word of what I knew. It's nearly a year
now--nearly a year of endless terror and..."

Her voice fell; she was trembling with the recrudescent suffering of
that year-long servitude. And for a little Lanyard felt too profoundly
moved to trust himself to speak; he stood aghast, staring down at this
woman, so intrinsically and gently feminine, so strangely strong and
courageous; and vaguely envisaging what anguish must have been hers in
enforced association with a creature of Bannon's ruthless stamp, he was
rent with compassion and swore to himself he'd stand by her and see her
through and free and happy if he died for it--or ended in the Sante!

"Poor child!" he heard himself murmuring--"poor child!"

"Don't pity me!" she insisted, still with face averted. "I don't
deserve it. If I had the spirit of a mouse, I'd have defied him; it
needed only courage enough to say one word to the police--"

"But who is he, then?" Lanyard demanded. "What is he, I mean?"

"I hardly know how to tell you. And I hardly dare: I feel as if these
walls would betray me if I did.... But to me he's the incarnation of
all things evil...." She shook herself with a nervous laugh. "But why
be silly about it? I don't really know what or who he is: I only
suspect and believe that he is a man whose life is devoted to planning
evil and ordering its execution through his lieutenants. When the
papers at home speak of 'The Man Higher Up' they mean Archer Bannon,
though they don't know it--or else I'm merely a hysterical woman
exaggerating the impressions of a morbid imagination.... And that's all
I know of him that matters."

"But why, if you believe all this--how did you at length find

"Because I no longer had courage to endure; because I was more afraid
to stay than to go--afraid that my own soul would be forfeit. And then,
last night, he ordered me to go to your room and search it for evidence
that you were the Lone Wolf. It was the first time he'd ever asked
anything like that of me. I was afraid, and though I obeyed, I was glad
when you interrupted--glad even though I had to lie the way I did....
And all that worked on me, after I'd gone back to my room, until I felt
I could stand it no longer; and after a long time, when the house
seemed all still, I got up, dressed quietly and ... That is how I came
to meet you--quite by accident."

"But you seemed so frightened at first when you saw me--"

"I was," she confessed simply; "I thought you were
Mr. Greggs."


"Mr. Bannon's private secretary--his right-hand man. He's about your
height and has a suit like the one you wear, and in that poor light--at
the distance I didn't notice you were clean-shaven--Greggs wears a

"Then it was Greggs murdered Roddy and tried to drug me! ... By George,
I'd like to know whether the police got there before Bannon, or
somebody else, discovered the substitution. It was a telegram to the
police, you know, I sent from the Bourse last night!"

In his excitement Lanyard began to pace the floor rapidly; and now that
he was no longer staring at her, the girl lifted her head and watched
him closely as he moved to and fro, talking aloud--more to himself than
to her.

"I wish I knew! ... And what a lucky thing, you did meet me! For if
you'd gone on to the Gare du Nord and waited there....Well, it isn't
likely Bannon didn't discover your flight before eight o'clock this
morning, is it?"

"I'm afraid not...."

"And they've drawn the dead-line for me round every conceivable exit
from Paris: Popinot's Apaches are picketed everywhere. And if Bannon
had found out about you in time, it would have needed only a word..."

He paused and shuddered to think what might have ensued had that word
been spoken and the girl been found waiting for her train in the Gare
du Nord.

"Mercifully, we've escaped that. And now, with any sort of luck, Bannon
ought to be busy enough, trying to get his precious Mr. Greggs out of
the Sante, to give us a chance. And a fighting chance is all I ask."

"Mr. Lanyard"--the girl bent toward him across the table with a gesture
of eager interest--"have you any idea why he--why Mr. Bannon hates you

"But does he? I don't know!"

"If he doesn't, why should he plot to cast suspicion of murder on you,
and why be so anxious to know whether you were really the Lone Wolf? I
saw his eyes light up when De Morbihan mentioned that name, after
dinner; and if ever I saw hatred in a man's face, it was in his as he
watched you, when you weren't looking."

"As far as I know, I never heard of him before," Lanyard said
carelessly. "I fancy it's nothing more than the excitement of a
man-hunt. Now that they've found me out, De Morbihan and his crew won't
rest until they've got my scalp."

"But why?"

"Professional jealousy. We're all crooks, all in the same boat, only I
won't row to their stroke. I've always played a lone hand successfully;
now they insist on coming into the game and sharing my winnings. And
I've told them where they could go."

"And because of that, they're willing to----"

"There's nothing they wouldn't do, Miss Shannon, to bring me to my
knees or see me put out of the way, where my operations couldn't hurt
their pocketbooks. Well ... all I ask is a fighting chance, and they
shall have their way!"

Her brows contracted. "I don't understand.... You want a fighting
chance--to surrender--to give in to their demands?"

"In a way--yes. I want a fighting chance to do what I'd never in the
world get them to credit--give it all up and leave them a free field."

And when still she searched his face with puzzled eyes, he insisted:
"I mean it; I want to get away--clear out--chuck the game for good and

A little silence greeted this announcement. Lanyard, at pause near the
table, resting a hand on it, bent to the girl's upturned face a grave
but candid regard. And the deeps of her eyes that never swerved from
his were troubled strangely in his vision. He could by no means account
for the light he seemed to see therein, a light that kindled while he
watched like a tiny flame, feeble, fearful, vacillant, then as the
moments passed steadied and grew stronger but ever leaped and danced;
so that he, lost in the wonder of it and forgetful of himself, thought
of it as the ardent face of a happy child dancing in the depths of some
brown autumnal woodland....

"You," she breathed incredulously--"you mean, you're going to stop--?"

"I _have_ stopped, Miss Shannon. The Lone Wolf has prowled for the last
time. I didn't know it until I woke up, an hour or so ago, but I've
turned my last job."

He remarked her hands were small, in keeping with the slightness of her
person, but somehow didn't seem so--wore a look of strength and
capability, befitting hands trained to a nurse's duties; and saw them
each tight-fisted but quivering as they rested on the table, as though
their mistress struggled to suppress the manifestation of some emotion
as powerful as unfathomable to him.

"But why?" she demanded in bewilderment. "But why do you say that? What
can have happened to make you--?"

"Not fear of that Pack!" he laughed--"not that, I promise you."

"Oh, I know!" she said impatiently--"I know that very well. But still I
don't understand...."

"If it won't bore you, I'll try to explain." He drew up his chair and
sat down again, facing her across the littered table. "I don't suppose
you've ever stopped to consider what an essentially stupid animal a
crook must be. Most of them are stupid because they practise clumsily
one of the most difficult professions imaginable, and inevitably fail
at it, yet persist. They wouldn't think of undertaking a job of civil
engineering with no sort of preparation, but they'll tackle a
dangerous proposition in burglary without a thought, and pay for
failure with years of imprisonment, and once out try it again. That's
one kind of criminal--the ninety-nine per-cent class--incurably stupid!
There's another class, men whose imagination forewarns them of dangers
and whose mental training, technical equipment and sheer manual
dexterity enable them to attack a formidable proposition like a modern
safe--by way of illustration--and force its secret. They're the
successful criminals, like myself--but they're no less stupid, no less
failures, than the other ninety-nine in our every hundred, because they
never stop to think. It never occurs to them that the same
intelligence, applied to any one of the trades they must be masters of,
would not only pay them better, but leave them their self-respect and
rid them forever of the dread of arrest that haunts us all like the
memory of some shameful act.... All of which is much more of a lecture
than I meant to inflict upon you, Miss Shannon, and sums up to just
this: _I_'ve stopped to think...."

With this he stopped for breath as well, and momentarily was silent,
his faint, twisted smile testifying to self-consciousness; but
presently, seeing that she didn't offer to interrupt, but continued to
give him her attention so exclusively that it had the effect of
fascination, he stumbled on, at first less confidently. "When I woke up
it was as if, without my will, I had been thinking all this out in my
sleep. I saw myself for the first time clearly, as I have been ever
since I can remember--a crook, thoughtless, vain, rapacious, ruthless,
skulking in shadows and thinking myself an amazingly fine fellow
because, between coups, I would play the gentleman a bit, venture into
the light and swagger in the haunts of the gratin! In my poor,
perverted brain I thought there was something fine and thrilling and
romantic in the career of a great criminal and myself a wonderful
figure--an enemy of society!"

"Why do you say this to me?" she demanded abruptly, out of a phase of
profound thoughtfulness.

He lifted an apologetic shoulder. "Because, I fancy, I'm no longer
self-sufficient. _I_ was all of that, twenty-four hours ago; but now
I'm as lonesome as a lost child in a dark forest. I haven't a friend in
the world. I'm like a stray pup, grovelling for sympathy. And you are
unfortunate enough to be the only person I can declare myself to.
It's going to be a fight--I know that too well!--and without something
outside myself to struggle toward, I'll be heavily handicapped. But
if ..." He faltered, with a look of wistful earnestness. "If I thought
that you, perhaps, were a little interested, that I had your faith to
respect and cherish ... if I dared hope that you'd be glad to know I
had won out against odds, it would mean a great deal to me, it might
mean my salvation!"

Watching her narrowly, hanging upon her decision with the anxiety of a
man proscribed and hoping against hope for pardon, he saw her eyes
cloud and shift from his, her lips parted but hesitant; and before she
could speak, hastily interposed:

"Please don't say anything yet. First let me demonstrate my sincerity.
So far I've done nothing to persuade you but--talk and talk and talk!
Give me a chance to prove I mean what I say."

"How"--she enunciated only with visible effort and no longer met his
appeal with an open countenance--"how can you do that?"

"In the long run, by establishing myself in some honest way of life,
however modest; but now, and principally, by making reparation for at
least one crime I've committed that's not irreparable."

He caught her quick glance of enquiry, and met it with a confident nod
as he placed between them the morocco-bound jewel-case.

"In London, yesterday," he said quietly, "I brought off two big coups.
One was deliberate, the other the inspiration of a moment. The one I'd
planned for months was the theft of the Omber jewels--here."

He tapped the case and resumed in the same manner: "The other job needs
a diagram: Not long ago a Frenchman named Huysman, living in Tours, was
mysteriously murdered--a poor inventor, who had starved himself to
perfect a stabilizator, an attachment to render aeroplanes practically
fool-proof. His final trials created a sensation and he was on the eve
of selling his invention to the Government when he was killed and his
plans stolen. Circumstantial evidence pointed to an international spy
named Ekstrom--Adolph Ekstrom, once Chief of the Aviation Corps of the
German Army, cashiered for general blackguardism with a suspicion of
treason to boot. However, Ekstrom kept out of sight; and presently the
plans turned up in the German War Office. That was a big thing for
Germany; already supreme with her dirigibles, the acquisition of the
Huysman stabilizator promised her ten years' lead over the world in the
field of aeroplanes.... Now yesterday Ekstrom came to the surface in
London with those self-same plans to sell to England. Chance threw him
my way, and he mistook me for the man he'd expected to meet--Downing
Street's secret agent. Well--no matter how--I got the plans from him
and brought them over with me, meaning to turn them over to France, to
whom by rights they belong."

"Without consideration?" the girl enquired shrewdly.

"Not exactly. I had meant to make no profit of the affair--I'm a bit
squeamish about tainted money!--but under present conditions, if France
insists on rewarding me with safe conduct out of the country, I shan't
refuse it.... Do you approve?"

She nodded earnestly: "It would be worse than criminal to return them
to Ekstrom...."

"That's my view of the matter."

"But these?" The girl rested her hand upon the jewel-case.

"Those go back to Madame Omber. She has a home here in Paris that I
know very well. In fact, the sole reason why I didn't steal them here
was that she left for England unexpectedly, just as I was all set to
strike. Now I purpose making use of my knowledge to restore the jewels
without risk of falling into the hands of the police. That will be an
easy matter.... And that brings me to a great favour I would beg of

She gave him a look so unexpectedly kind that it staggered him. But he
had himself well in hand.

"You can't now leave Paris before morning--thanks to my having
overslept," he explained. "There's no honest way I know to raise money
before the pawn-shops open. But I'm hoping that won't be necessary; I'm
hoping I can arrange matters without going to that extreme. Meanwhile,
you agree that these jewels must be returned?"

"Of course," she affirmed gently.

"Then ... will you accompany me when I replace them? There won't be any
danger: I promise you that. Indeed, it would be more hazardous for you
to wait for me elsewhere while I attended to the matter alone. And I'd
like you to be convinced of my good faith."

"Don't you think you can trust me for that as well?" she asked, with a
flash of humour.

"Trust you!"

"To believe ... Mr. Lanyard," she told him gently but earnestly, "I do

"You make me very happy," he said ... "but I'd like you to see for
yourself.... And I'd be glad not to have to fret about your safety in
my absence. As a bureau of espionage, Popinot's brigade of Apaches is
without a peer in Europe. I am positively afraid to leave you

She was silent.

"Will you come with me, Miss Shannon?" "That is your sole reason for
asking this of me?" she insisted, eyeing him steadily.

"That I wish you to believe in me--yes."

"Why?" she pursued, inexorable.

"Because ... I've already told you."

"That you want someone's good opinion to cherish.... But why, of all
people, me--whom you hardly know, of whom what little you do know is
hardly reassuring?"

He coloured, and boggled his answer.... "I can't tell you," he
confessed in the end.

"Why can't you tell me?"

He stared at her miserably.... "I've no right...."

"In spite of all I've said, in spite of the faith you so generously
promise me, in your eyes I must still figure as a thief, a liar, an
impostor--self-confessed. Men aren't made over by mere protestations,
nor even by their own efforts, in an hour, or a day, or a week. But
give me a year: if I can live a year in honesty, and earn my bread,
and so prove my strength--then, perhaps, I might find the courage,
the--the effrontery to tell you why I want your good opinion.... Now
I've said far more than I meant or had any right to. I hope," he
ventured pleadingly--"you're not offended."

Only an instant longer could she maintain her direct and unflinching
look. Then, his meaning would no more be ignored. Her lashes fell; a
tide of crimson flooded her face; and with a quick movement, pushing
her chair a little from the table, she turned aside. But she said

He remained as he had been, bending eagerly toward her. And in the long
minute that elapsed before either spoke again, both became oddly
conscious of the silence brooding in that lonely little house, of their
isolation from the world, of their common peril and mutual dependence.

"I'm afraid," Lanyard said, after a time--"I'm afraid I know what you
must be thinking. One can't do your intelligence the injustice to
imagine that you haven't understood me--read all that was in my mind
and"--his voice fell--"in my heart. I own I was wrong to speak so
transparently, to suggest my regard for you, at such a time, under
such conditions. I am truly sorry, and beg you to consider unsaid all
that I should not have said.... After all, what earthly difference can
it make to you if one thief more decides suddenly to reform?"

That brought her abruptly to her feet, to show him a face of glowing
loveliness and eyes distractingly dimmed and softened.

"No!" she implored him breathlessly--"please--you mustn't spoil it!
You've paid me the finest of compliments, and one I'm glad and grateful
for ... and would I might think I deserved! ... You say you need a year
to prove yourself? Then--I've no right to say this--and you must
please not ask me what I mean--then I grant you that year. A year I
shall wait to hear from you from the day we part, here in Paris.... And
to-night, I will go with you, too, and gladly, since you wish it!"

And then as he, having risen, stood at loss, thrilled, and incredulous,
with a brave and generous gesture she offered him her hand.

"Mr. Lanyard, I promise...."

To every woman, even the least lovely, her hour of beauty: it had not
entered Lanyard's mind to think this woman beautiful until that moment.
Of her exotic charm, of the allure of her pensive, plaintive prettiness,
he had been well aware; even as he had been unable to deny to himself
that he was all for her, that he loved her with all the strength that
was his; but not till now had he understood that she was the one woman
whose loveliness to him would darken the fairness of all others.

And for a little, holding her tremulous hand upon his finger-tips as
though he feared to bruise it with a ruder contact, he could not take
his eyes from her.

Then reverently he bowed his head and touched his lips to that hand ...
and felt it snatched swiftly away, and started back, aghast, the idyll
roughly dissipated, the castle of his dreams falling in thunders round
his ears.

In the studio-skylight overhead a pane of glass had fallen in with a
shattering crash as ominous as the Trump of Doom.



Falling without presage upon the slumberous hush enveloping the little
house marooned in that dead back-water of Paris, the shock of that
alarm drove the girl back from the table to the nearest wall, and for a
moment held her there, transfixed in panic.

To the wide, staring eyes that questioned his so urgently, Lanyard
promptly nodded grave reassurance. He hadn't stirred since his first,
involuntary and almost imperceptible start, and before the last
fragment of splintered glass had tinkled on the floor above, he was
calming her in the most matter-of-fact manner.

"Don't be alarmed," he said. "It's nothing--merely Solon's skylight
gone smash!"

"You call that nothing!" she cried gustily. "What caused it, then?"

"My negligence," he admitted gloomily. "I might have known that wide
spread of glass with the studio electrics on, full-blaze, would give
the show away completely. The house is known to be unoccupied; and it
wasn't to be expected that both the police and Popinot's crew would
overlook so shining a mark.... And it's all my fault, my oversight: I
should have thought of it before.... High time I was quitting a game
I've no longer the wit to play by the rules!"

"But the police would never...!"

"Certainly not. This is Popinot's gentle method of letting us know he's
on the job. But I'll just have a look, to make sure.... No: stop where
you are, please. I'd rather go alone."

He swung alertly through to the hall window, pausing there only long
enough for an instantaneous glance through the draperies--a fugitive
survey that discovered the impasse Stanislas no more abandoned to the
wind and rain, but tenanted visibly by one at least who lounged beneath
the lonely lamp-post, a shoulder against it: a featureless civilian
silhouette with attention fixed to the little house.

But Lanyard didn't doubt this one had a dozen fellows stationed within

Springing up the stairs, he paused prudently at the top-most step, one
quick glance showing him the huge rent gaping black in the skylight,
the second the missile of destruction lying amid a litter of broken
glass--a brick wrapped in newspaper, by the look of it.

Swooping forward, he retrieved this, darted back from the exposed space
beneath the shattered skylight, and had no more than cleared the
threshold than a second something fell through the gap and buried
itself in the parquetry. This was a bullet fired from the roof of one
of the adjoining buildings: confirming his prior reasoning that the
first missile must have fallen from a height, rather than have been
thrown up from the street, to have wrought such destruction with those
tough, thick panes of clouded glass....

Swearing softly to himself, he descended to the kitchen.

"As I thought," he said coolly, exhibiting his find.

"They're on the roof of the next house--though they've posted a sentry
in the street, of course."

"But that second thump--?" the girl demanded.

"A bullet," he said, placing the bundle on the table and cutting the
string that bound it: "they were on the quivive and fired when I showed
myself beneath the skylight."

"But I heard no report," she objected.

"A Maxim silencer on the gun, I fancy," he explained, unwrapping the
brick and smoothing out the newspaper.... "Glad you thought to put on
your hat before you came down," he added, with an approving glance for
the girl; "it won't be safe to go up to the studio again--of course."

His nonchalance was far less real than it seemed, but helped to steady
one who was holding herself together with a struggle, on the verge of
nervous collapse.

"But what are we to do now?" she stammered. "If they've surrounded the

"Don't worry: there's more than one way out," he responded, frowning at
the newspaper; "I wouldn't have picked this place out, otherwise. Nor
would Solon have rented it in the first instance had it lacked an
emergency exit, in event of creditors.... Ah--thought so!"


"Troyon's is gone," he said, without looking up. "This is to-night's
Presse.... '_Totally destroyed by a fire which started at six-thirty
this morning and in less than half an hour had reduced the ancient
structure to a heap of smoking ashes_'! ..." He ran his eye quickly
down the column, selecting salient phrases: "'_Believed to have been of
incendiary origin though the premises were uninsured_'--that's an
intelligent guess!... '_Narrow escape of guests in their
'_whatyemaycallems...._'Three lives believed to have been lost ... one
body recovered charred almost beyond recognition_'--but later
identified as Roddy--poor devil! ... '_Two guests missing, Monsieur
Lanyard, the well-known connoisseur of art, who occupied the room
adjoining that of the unfortunate detective, and Mademoiselle Bannon,
daughter of the American millionaire, who himself escaped only by a
miracle with his secretary Monsieur Greggs, the latter being overcome
by fumes_'--what a shame!... '_Police and firemen searching the
ruins_'--hm-hm--' _extraordinary interest manifested by the Prefecture
indicates a suspicion that the building may have been fired to conceal
some crime of a political nature_.'"

Crushing the newspaper between his hands, he tossed it into a corner.
"That's all of importance. Thoughtful of Popinot to let me know, this
way! The Prefecture, of course, is humming like a wasp's-nest with the
mystery of that telegram, signed with Roddy's name and handed in at the
Bourse an hour or so before he was 'burned to death.' Too bad I didn't
know then what I do now; if I'd even remotely suspected Greggs'
association with the Pack was via Bannon.... But what's the use? I did
my possible, knowing the odds were heavy against success."

"What was written on the paper?" the girl demanded obliquely.

He made his eyes blank: "Written on the paper--?"

"I saw something in red ink at the head of the column. You tried to
hide it from me, but I saw.... What was it?"

"Oh--that!" he laughed contemptuously: "just Popinot's impudence--an
invitation to come out and be a good target."

She shook her head impatiently: "You're not telling me the truth. It
was something else, or you wouldn't have been so anxious to hide it."

"Oh, but I assure you--!"

"You can't. Be honest with me, Mr. Lanyard. It was an offer to let you
off if you'd give me up to Bannon--wasn't it?"

"Something like that," he assented sheepishly--"too absurd for
consideration.... But now we're due to clear out of this before they
find a way in. Not that they're likely to risk a raid until they've
tried starving us out; but it would be as well to put a good distance
between us before they find out we've decamped."

He shrugged into his borrowed raincoat, buttoned it to his chin, and
turned down the brim of his felt hat; but when he looked up at the girl
again, he found she hadn't moved; rather, she remained as one spellbound,
staring less at than through him, her expression inscrutable.

"Well," he ventured--"if you're quite ready, Miss Shannon--?"

"Mr. Lanyard," she demanded almost sharply--"what was the full wording
of that message?"

"If you must know--"

"I must!"

He lifted a depreciative shoulder. "If you like, I'll read it to
you--or, rather, translate it from the thieves' argot Popinot
complimented me by using."

"Not necessary," she said tersely. "I'll take your word for it....
But you must tell me the truth."

"As you will.... Popinot delicately suggested that if I leave you here,
to be reunited to your alleged parent--if I'll trust to his word of
honour, that is, and walk out of the house alone, he'll give me
twenty-four hours in which to leave Paris."

"Then only I stand between you and--"

"My dear young woman!" he protested hastily. "Please don't run away
with any absurd notion like that. Do you imagine I'd consent to treat
with such canaille under any circumstances?"

"All the same," she continued stubbornly, "I'm the stumbling-block.
You're risking your life for me--"

"I'm not," he insisted almost angrily.

"You are," she returned with quiet conviction.

"Well!" he laughed--"have it your own way!..."

"But it's _my_ life, isn't it? I really don't see how you're going to
prevent my risking it for anything that may seem to me worth the risk!"

But she wouldn't laugh; only her countenance, suddenly bereft of its
mutinous expression, softened winningly--and her eyes grew very kind to

"As long as it's understood I understand--very well," she said quietly;
"I'll do as you wish, Mr. Lanyard."

"Good!" he cried cheerfully. "I wish, by your leave, to take you out to
dinner.... This way, please!"

Leading through the scullery, he unbarred a low, arched door in one of
the walls, discovering the black mouth of a narrow and tunnel-like

With a word of caution, flash-lamp in his left hand, pistol in right,
Lanyard stepped out into the darkness.

In two minutes he was back, with a look of relief.

"All clear," he reported; "I felt pretty sure Popinot knew nothing of
this way out--else we'd have entertained uninvited guests long since.
Now, half a minute...."

The electric meter occupied a place on the wall of the scullery not far
from the door. Prying open its cover, he unscrewed and removed the fuse
plug, plunging the entire house in complete darkness.

"That'll keep 'em guessing a while!" he explained with a chuckle.
"They'll hesitate a long time before rushing a dark house infested by a
desperate armed man--if I know anything about that mongrel lot!...
Besides, when they do get their courage up, the lack of light will
stave off discovery of this way of escape.... And now, one word more."

A flash of the lamp located her hand. Calmly he possessed himself of it,
if without opposition.

"I've brought you into trouble enough, as it is, through my stupidity,"
he said; "but for that, this place should have been a refuge to us
until we were quite ready to leave Paris. So now we mustn't forget,
before we go out to run God-only-knows-what gauntlet, to fix a
rendezvous in event of separation.... Popinot, for instance, may have
drawn a cordon around the block; we can't tell until we're in the
street; if he has, you must leave me to entertain them until you're
safe beyond their reach.... Oh, don't worry: I'm perfectly well able to
take care of myself....But afterwards, we must know where to find each
other. Hotels, cafes and restaurants are out of the question: in the
first place, we've barely money enough for our dinner; besides, they'll
be watched closely; as for our embassies and consulates, they aren't
open at all hours, and will likewise be watched. There remain--unless
you can suggest something--only the churches; and I can think of none
better suited to our purposes than the Sacre-Cour."

Her fingers tightened gently upon his.

"I understand," she said quietly; "if we're obliged to separate, I'm to
go direct to the Sacre-Cour and await you there."

"Right! ...But let's hope there'll be no such necessity."

Hand-in-hand like frightened children, these two stole down the
tunnel-like passageway, through a forlorn little court cramped between
two tall old tenements, and so came out into the gloomy, sinuous and
silent rue d'Assas.

Here they encountered few wayfarers; and to these, preoccupied with
anxiety to gain shelter from the inclement night, they seemed, no doubt,
some student of the Quarter with his sweetheart--Lanyard in his shabby
raincoat, striding rapidly, head and shoulders bowed against the driving
mist, the girl in her trim Burberry clinging to his arm....

Avoiding the nearer stations as dangerous, Lanyard steered a roundabout
course through by-ways to the rue de Sevres station of the Nord-Sud
subway; from which in due course they came to the surface again at the
place de la Concorde, walked several blocks, took a taxicab, and in
less than half an hour after leaving the impasse Stanislas were
comfortably ensconced in a cabinet particulier of a little restaurant
of modest pretensions just north of Les Halles.

They feasted famously: the cuisine, if bourgeois, was admirable and,
better still, well within the resources of Lanyard's emaciated purse.
Nor did he fret with consciousness that, when the bill had been paid
and the essential tips bestowed, there would remain in his pocket
hardly more than cab fare. Supremely self-confident, he harboured no
doubts of a smiling future--now that the dark pages in his record had
been turned and sealed by a resolution he held irrevocable.

His spirits had mounted to a high pitch, thanks to their successful
evasion. He was young, he was in love, he was hungry, he was--in
short--very much alive. And the consciousness of common peril knitted
an enchanting intimacy into their communications. For the first time in
his history Lanyard found himself in the company of a woman with whom
he dared--and cared--to speak without reserve: a circumstance
intrinsically intoxicating. And stimulated by her unquestionable
interest and sympathy, he did talk without reserve of old Troyon's and
its drudge, Marcel; of Bourke and his wanderings; of the education of
the Lone Wolf and his career, less in pride than in relief that it was
ended; of the future he must achieve for himself.

And sitting with chin cradled on the backs of her interlaced fingers,
the girl listened with such indulgence as women find always for their
lovers. Of herself she had little to say: Lanyard filled in to his
taste the outlines of the simple history of a young woman of good
family obliged to become self-supporting.

And if at times her grave eyes clouded and her attention wandered, it
was less in ennui than because of occult trains of thought set astir by
some chance word or phrase of Lanyard's.

"I'm boring you," he surmised once with quick contrition, waking up to
the fact that he had monopolized the conversation for many minutes on

She shook a pensive head. "No, again.... But I wonder, do you
appreciate the magnitude of the task you've undertaken?"

"Possibly not," he conceded arrogantly; "but it doesn't matter. The
heavier the odds, the greater the incentive to win."

"But," she objected, "you've told me a curious story of one who never
had a chance or incentive to 'go straight'--as you put it. And yet you
seem to think that an overnight resolution to reform is all that's
needed to change all the habits of a life-time. You persuade me of your
sincerity of today; but how will it be with you tomorrow--and not so
much tomorrow as six months from tomorrow, when you've found the going
rough and know you've only to take one step aside to gain a smooth and
easy way?"

"If I fail, then, it will be because I'm unfit--and I'll go under, and
never be heard of again.... But I shan't fail. It seems to me the very
fact that I want to go straight is proof enough that I've something
inherently decent in me to build on."

"I do believe that, and yet..." She lowered her head and began to trace
a meaningless pattern on the cloth before she resumed. "You've given me
to understand I'm responsible for your sudden awakening, that it's
because of a regard conceived for me you're so anxious to become an
honest man. Suppose ... suppose you were to find out ... you'd been
mistaken in me?"

"That isn't possible," he objected promptly.

She smiled upon him wistfully--and leniently from her remote coign of
superior intuitive knowledge of human nature.

"But if it were--?"

"Then--I think," he said soberly--"I think I'd feel as though there
were nothing but emptiness beneath my feet!"

"And you'd backslide--?"

"How can I tell?" he expostulated. "It's not a fair question. I don't
know what I'd do, but I do know it would need something damnable to
shake my faith in you!"

"You think so now," she said tolerantly. "But if appearances were
against me--"

"They'd have to be black!"

"If you found I had deceived you--?"

"Miss Shannon!" He threw an arm across the table and suddenly
imprisoned her hand. "There's no use beating about the bush. You've got
to know--"

She drew back suddenly with a frightened look and a monosyllable of
sharp protest: "No!"

"But you must listen to me. I want you to understand.... Bourke used to
say to me: 'The man who lets love into his life opens a door no mortal
hand can close--and God only knows what will follow in!' And Bourke was
right.... Now that door is open in my heart, and I think that whatever
follows in won't be evil or degrading.... Oh, I've said it a dozen
different ways of indirection, but I may as well say it squarely now:
I love you; it's love of you makes me want to go straight--the hope that
when I've proved myself you'll maybe let me ask you to marry me....
Perhaps you're in love with a better man today; I'm willing to chance
that; a year brings many changes. Perhaps there's something I don't
fathom in your doubting my strength and constancy. Only the outcome can
declare that. But please understand this: if I fail to make good, it
will be no fault of yours; it will be because I'm unfit and have proved
it.... All I ask is what you've generously promised me: opportunity to
come to you at the end of the year and make my report.... And then, if
you will, you can say no to the question I'll ask you and I shan't
resent it, and it won't ruin me; for if a man can stick to a purpose
for a year, he can stick to it forever, with or without the love of the
woman he loves."

She heard him out without attempt at interruption, but her answer was
prefaced by a sad little shake of her head.

"That's what makes it so hard, so terribly hard," she said.... "Of
course I've understood you. All that you've said by indirection, and
much besides, has had its meaning to me. And I'm glad and proud of the
honour you offer me. But I can't accept it; I can never accept it--not
now nor a year from now. It wouldn't be fair to let you go on hoping I
might some time consent to marry you.... For that's impossible."

"You--forgive me--you're not already married?"


"Or promised?"


"Or in love with someone else?"

Again she told him, gently, "No."

His face cleared. He squared his shoulders. He even mustered up a smile.

"Then it isn't impossible. No human obstacle exists that time can't
overthrow. In spite of all you say, I shall go on hoping with all my
heart and soul and strength."

"But you don't understand--"

"Can you tell me--make me understand?"

After a long pause, she told him once more, and very sadly: "No."



Though it had been nearly eight when they entered the restaurant, it
was something after eleven before Lanyard called for his bill.

"We've plenty of time," he had explained; "it'll be midnight before we
can move. The gentle art of house-breaking has its technique, you know,
its professional ethics: we can't well violate the privacy of Madame
Omber's strong-box before the caretakers on the premises are sound
asleep. It isn't _done_, you know, it isn't class, to go burglarizing
when decent, law-abiding folk are wide-awake.... Meantime we're better
off here than trapezing the streets...."

It's a silent web of side ways and a gloomy one by night that backs up
north of Les Halles: old Paris, taciturn and sombre, steeped in its
memories of grim romance. But for infrequent, flickering, corner lamps,
the street that welcomed them from the doors of the warm and cosy
restaurant was as dismal as an alley in some city of the dead. Its
houses with their mansard roofs and boarded windows bent their heads
together like mutes at a wake, black-cloaked and hooded; seldom one
showed a light; never one betrayed by any sound the life that lurked
behind its jealous blinds. Now again the rain had ceased and, though
the sky remained overcast, the atmosphere was clear and brisk with a
touch of frost, in grateful contrast to the dull and muggy airs that
had obtained for the last twenty-four hours.

"We'll walk," Lanyard suggested--"if you don't mind--part of the way at
least; it'll eat up time, and a bit of exercise will do us both good."

The girl assented quietly....

The drum of their heels on fast-drying sidewalks struck sharp echoes
from the silence of that drowsy quarter, a lonely clamour that rendered
it impossible to ignore their apparent solitude--as impossible as it
was for Lanyard to ignore the fact that they were followed.

The shadow dogging them on the far side of the street, some fifty yards
behind, was as noiseless as any cat; but for this circumstance--had it
moved boldly with unmuffled footsteps--Lanyard would have been slow to
believe it concerned with him, so confident had be felt, till that moment,
of having given the Pack the slip.

And from this he diagnosed still another symptom of the Pack's
incurable stupidity!

Supremely on the alert, he had discovered the pursuit before they left
the block of the restaurant. Dissembling, partly to avoid alarming the
girl, partly to trick the spy, he turned this way and that round
several corners, until quite convinced that the shadow was dedicated to
himself exclusively, then promptly revised his first purpose and,
instead of sticking to darker back ways, struck out directly for the
broad, well-lighted and lively boulevard de Sebastopol.

Crossing this without a backward glance, he turned north, seeking some
cafe whose arrangements suited his designs; and, presently, though not
before their tramp had brought them almost to the Grand Boulevards,
found one to his taste, a cheerful and well-lighted establishment
occupying a corner, with entrances from both streets. A hedge of
forlorn fir-trees knee-deep in wooden tubs guarded its terrasse of
round metal tables and spindle-shanked chairs; of which few were
occupied. Inside, visible through the wide plate-glass windows, perhaps
a dozen patrons sat round half as many tables--no more--idling over
dominoes and gossip: steady-paced burghers with their wives, men in
small ways of business of the neighbourhood.

Entering to this company, Lanyard selected a square marble-topped table
against the back wall, entrenched himself with the girl upon the seat
behind it, ordered coffee and writing materials, and proceeded to light
a cigarette with the nonchalance of one to whom time is of no

"What is it?" the girl asked guardedly as the waiter scurried off to
execute his commands. "You've not stopped in here for nothing!"

"True--but lower, please!" he begged. "If we speak English loud enough
to be heard it will attract attention.... The trouble is, we're
followed. But as yet our faithful shadow doesn't know we know
it--unless he's more intelligent than he seems. Consequently, if I
don't misjudge him, he'll take a table outside, the better to keep an
eye on us, as soon as he sees we're apparently settled for some time.
More than that, I've got a note to write--and not merely as a
subterfuge. This fellow must be shaken off, and as long as we stick
together, that can't well be done."

He interrupted himself while the waiter served them, then added sugar
to his coffee, arranged the ink bottle and paper to his satisfaction,
and bent over his pen.

"Come closer," he requested--"as if you were interested in what I'm
writing--and amused; if you can laugh a bit at nothing, so much the
better. But keep a sharp eye on the windows. You can do that more
readily than I, more naturally from under the brim of your hat.... And
tell me what you see...."

He had no more than settled into the swing of composition, than the
girl--apparently following his pen with closest attention--giggled
coquettishly and nudged his elbow.

"The window to the right of the door we came in," she said, smiling
delightedly; "he's standing behind the fir-trees, staring in."

"Can you make out who he is?" Lanyard asked without moving his lips.

"Nothing more than that he's tall," she said with every indication of
enjoying a tremendous joke. "His face is all in shadow...."

"Patience!" counselled the adventurer. "He'll take heart of courage
when convinced of our innocence."

He poised his pen, examined the ceiling for inspiration, and permitted
a slow smile to lighten his countenance.

"You'll take this note, if you please," he said cheerfully, "to the
address on the envelope, by taxi: it's some distance, near the
Etoile.... A long chance, but one we must risk; give me half an hour
alone and I'll guarantee to discourage this animal one way or another.
You understand?"

"Perfectly," she laughed archly.

He bent and for a few moments wrote busily.

"Now he's walking slowly round the corner, never taking his eyes from
you," the girl reported, shoulder to his shoulder and head
distractingly near his head.

"Good. Can you see him any better?"

"Not yet...."

"This note," he said, without stopping his pen or appearing to say
anything "is for the concierge of a building where I rent stabling for
a little motor-car. I'm supposed there to be a chauffeur in the employ
of a crazy Englishman, who keeps me constantly travelling with him back
and forth between Paris and London. That's to account for the
irregularity with which I use the car. They know me, monsieur and
madame of the conciergerie, as Pierre Lamier; and I _think_ they're
safe--not only trustworthy and of friendly disposition, but quite
simple-minded; I don't believe they gossip much. So the chances are De
Morbihan and his gang know nothing of the arrangement. But that's all
speculation--a forlorn hope!"

"I understand," the girl observed. "He's still prowling up and down
outside the hedge."

"We're not going to need that car tonight; but the hotel of Madame
Omber is close by; and I'll follow and join you there within an hour at
most. Meantime, this note will introduce you to the concierge and his
wife--I hope you won't mind--as my fiancee. I'm telling them we became
engaged in England, and I've brought you to Paris to visit my mother in
Montrouge; but am detained by my employer's business; and will they
please give you shelter for an hour."

"He's coming in," the girl announced quietly.

"In here?"

"No--merely inside the row of little trees."

"Which entrance?"

"The boulevard side. He's taken the corner table. Now a waiter's going
out to him."

"You can see his face now?" Lanyard asked, sealing the

"Not well...."

"Nothing you recognize about him, eh?"


"You know Popinot and Wertheimer by sight?"

"No; they're only names to me; De Morbihan and Mr. Bannon mentioned
them last night."

"It won't be Popinot," Lanyard reflected, addressing the envelope;
"he's tubby."

"This man is tall and slender."

"Wertheimer, possibly. Does he suggest an Englishman, any way?"

"Not in the least. He wears a moustache--blond--twisted up like the

Lanyard made no reply; but his heart sank, and he shivered
imperceptibly with foreboding. He entertained no doubt but that the
worst had happened, that to the number of his enemies in Paris was
added Ekstrom.

One furtive glance confirmed this inference. He swore bitterly, if
privately and with a countenance of child-like blandness, as he sipped
the coffee and finished his cigarette.

"Who is it, then?" she asked. "Do you know him?"

He reckoned swiftly against distressing her, recalling his mention of
the fact that Ekstrom was credited with the Huysman murder.

"Merely a hanger-on of De Morbihan's," he told her lightly; "a
spineless animal--no trouble about scaring him off.... Now take this
note, please, and we'll go. But as we reach the door, turn back--and go
out the other. You'll find a taxi without trouble. And stop for

He had shown foresight in paying when served, and was consequently able
to leave abruptly, without giving Ekstrom time to shy. Rising smartly,
he pushed the table aside. The girl was no less quick, and little less
sensitive to the strain of the moment; but as she passed him her lashes
lifted and her eyes were all his for the instant.

"Good night," she breathed--"good night ... my dear!"

She could have guessed no more shrewdly what he needed to nerve him
against the impending clash. He hadn't hesitated as to his only course,
but till then he'd been horribly afraid, knowing too well the
desperate cast of the outlawed German's nature. But now he couldn't

He strode briskly toward the door to the boulevard, out of the corner
of his eye aware that Ekstrom, taken by surprise, half-started from his
chair, then sank back.

Two paces from the entrance the girl checked, murmured in French, "Oh,
my handkerchief!" and turned briskly back. Without pause, as though he
hadn't heard, Lanyard threw the door wide and swung out, turning
directly to the spy. At the same time he dropped a hand into the pocket
where nestled his automatic.

Fortunately Ekstrom had chosen a table in a corner well removed from
any in use. Lanyard could speak without fear of being overheard.

But for a moment he refrained. Nor did Ekstrom speak or stir; sitting
sideways at his table, negligently, with knees crossed, the German
likewise kept a hand buried in the pocket of his heavy, dark ulster.
Thus neither doubted the other's ill-will or preparedness. And through
thirty seconds of silence they remained at pause, each striving with
all his might to read the other's purpose in his eyes. But there was
this distinction to be drawn between their attitudes, that whereas
Lanyard's gaze challenged, the German's was sullenly defiant. And
presently Lanyard felt his heart stir with relief: the spy's glance had

"Ekstrom," the adventurer said quietly, "if you fire, I'll get you
before I fall. That's a simple statement of fact."

The German hesitated, moistened the corners of his lips with a nervous
tongue, but contented himself with a nod of acknowledgement.

"Take your hand off that gun," Lanyard ordered. "Remember--I've only to
cry your name aloud to have you torn to pieces by these people. Your
life's not worth a moment's purchase in Paris--as you should know."

The German hesitated, but in his heart knew that Lanyard didn't
exaggerate. The murder of the inventor had exasperated all France; and
though tonight's weather kept a third of Paris within doors, there was
still a tide of pedestrians fluent on the sidewalk, beyond the flimsy
barrier of firs, that would thicken to a ravening mob upon the least

He had mistaken his man; he had thought that Lanyard, even if aware of
his pursuit, would seek to shake it off in flight rather than turn and
fight--and fight here, of all places!

"Do you hear me?" Lanyard continued in the same level and unyielding
tone. "Bring both hands in sight--upon the table!"

There was no more hesitation: Ekstrom obeyed, if with the sullen grace
of a wild beast that would and could slay its trainer with one sweep of
its paw--if only it dared.

For the first time since leaving the girl Lanyard relaxed his vigilant
watch over the man long enough for one swift glance through the window
at his side. But she was already vanished from the cafe.

He breathed more freely now.

"Come!" he said peremptorily. "Get up. We've got to talk, I
presume--thrash this matter out--and we'll come to no decision here."

"Where do we go, then?" the German demanded suspiciously.

"We can walk."

Irresolutely the spy uncrossed his knees, but didn't rise.

"Walk?" he repeated, "walk where?"

"Up the boulevard, if you like--where the lights are brightest."

"Ah!"--with a malignant flash of teeth--"but I don't trust you."

Lanyard laughed: "You wear only one shoe of that pair, my dear
captain! We're a distrustful flock, we birds of prey. Come along! Why
sit there sulking, like a spoiled child? You've made an ass of
yourself, following me to Paris; sadly though you bungled that job in
London, I gave you credit for more wit than to poke your head into the
lion's mouth here. But--admitting that--why not be graceful about it?
Here am I, amiably treating you like an equal: you might at least show
gratitude enough to accept my invitation to flaner yourself!"

With a grunt the spy got upon his feet, while Lanyard stood back,
against the window, and made him free of the narrow path between the
tree-tubs and the tables.

"After you, my dear Adolph...!"

The German paused, half turned towards him, choking with rage, his
suffused face darkly relieving its white scars won at Heidelberg. At
this, with a nod of unmistakable meaning, Lanyard advanced the muzzle
of his pocketed weapon; and with an ugly growl the German moved on and
out to the sidewalk, Lanyard respectfully an inch or two behind his

"To your right," he requested pleasantly--"if it's all the same to you:
I've business on the Boulevards..."

Ekstrom said nothing for the moment, but sullenly yielded to the

"By the way," the adventurer presently pursued, "you might be good
enough to inform me how you knew where we were dining--eh?"

"If it interests you--"

"I own it does--tremendously!"

"Pure accident: I happened to be sitting in the cafe, and caught a
glimpse of you through the door as you went upstairs. Therefore I
waited till the waiter asked for your bill at the caisse, then
stationed myself outside."

"But why? Can you tell me what you thought to accomplish?"

"You know well," Ekstrom muttered. "After what happened in London ...
it's your life or mine!"

"Spoken like a true villain! But it seems to me you overlooked a
conspicuous chance to accomplish your hellish design, back there in the
side streets."

"Would I be such a fool as to shoot you down before finding out what
you've done with those plans?"

"You might as well have," Lanyard informed him lightly ... "For you
won't know otherwise."

With an infuriated oath the German stopped short: but he dared not
ignore the readiness with which his tormentor imitated the manoeuvre
and kept the pistol trained through the fabric of his raincoat.

"Yes--?" the adventurer enquired with an exasperating accent of

"Understand me," Ekstrom muttered vindictively: "next time I'll show
you no mercy--"

"But if there _is_ no next time? We're not apt to meet again, you know."

"That's something beyond your knowledge--"

"You think so? ... But shan't we resume our stroll? People might
notice us standing here--you with your teeth bared like an
ill-tempered dog.... Oh, thank you!"

And as they moved on, Lanyard continued: "Shall I explain why we're
not apt to meet again?"

"If it amuses you."

"Thanks once more! ... For the simple reason that Paris satisfies me;
so here I stop."

"Well?" the spy asked with a blank sidelong look.

"Whereas you are leaving Paris tonight."

"What makes you think that?"

"Because you value your thick hide too highly to remain, my dear
captain." Having gained the corner of the boulevard St. Denis, Lanyard
pulled up. "One moment, by your leave. You see yonder the entrance to
the Metro--don't you? And here, a dozen feet away, a perfectly
able-bodied sergent de ville? Let this fateful conjunction impress you
properly: for five minutes after you have descended to the Metro--or as
soon as the noise of a train advises me you've had one chance to get
away--I shall mention casually to the sergo--that I have seen Captain

"Hush!" the German protested in a hiss of fright.

"But certainly: I've no desire to embarrass you: publicity must be
terribly distasteful to one of your sensitive and retiring
disposition.... But I trust you understand me? On the one hand, there's
the Metro; on the other, there's the flic; while here, you must admit,
am I, as large as life and very much on the job! ... And inasmuch as I
shall certainly mention my suspicions to the minion of the law--as
aforesaid--I'd advise you to be well out of Paris before dawn!"

There was murder in the eyes of the spy as he lingered, truculently
glowering at the smiling adventurer; and for an instant Lanyard was
well-persuaded he had gone too far, that even there, even on that busy
junction of two crowded thoroughfares, Ekstrom would let his temper get
the better of his judgment and risk everything in an attempt upon the
life of his despoiler.

But he was mistaken.

With a surly shrug the spy swung about and marched straight to the kiosk
of the underground railway, into which, without one backward glance, he

Two minutes later the earth beneath Lanyard's feet quaked with the crash
and rumble of a north-bound train.

He waited three minutes longer; but Ekstrom didn't reappear; and at
length convinced that his warning had proved effectual, Lanyard turned
and made off.



For all that success had rewarded his effrontery, Lanyard's mind was
far from easy during the subsequent hour that he spent before
attempting to rejoin Lucy Shannon, dodging, ducking and doubling across
Paris and back again, with design to confuse and confound any jackals
of the Pack that might have picked up his trail as adventitiously as
Ekstrom had.

His delight, indeed, in discomfiting his dupe was chilled by
apprehension that it were madness, simply because the spy had proved
unexpectedly docile, to consider the affaire Ekstrom closed. In the
very fact of that docility inhered something strange and ominous, a
premonition of evil which was hardly mitigated by finding the girl safe
and sound under the wing of madame la concierge, in the little court of
private stables, where he rented space for his car, off the rue des

Monsieur le concierge, it appeared, was from home; and madame,
thick-witted, warm-hearted, simple body that she was, discovered a
phase of beaming incuriosity most grateful to the adventurer, enabling
him as it did to dispense with embarrassing explanations, and to whisk
the girl away as soon as he liked.

This last was just as soon as personal examination had reassured him
with respect to his automobile--superficially an ordinary motor-cab of
the better grade, but with an exceptionally powerful engine hidden
beneath its hood. A car of such character, passing readily as the
town-car of any family in modest circumstances, or else as what Paris
calls a voiture de remise (a hackney car without taximeter) was a
tremendous convenience, enabling its owner to scurry at will about
cab-ridden Paris free of comment. But it could not be left standing in
public places at odd hours, or for long, without attracting the
interest of the police, and so was useless in the present emergency.
Lanyard, however, entertained a shrewd suspicion that his plans might
all miscarry and the command of a fast-travelling car soon prove
essential to his salvation; and he cheerfully devoted a good half-hour
to putting the motor in prime trim for the road.

With this accomplished--and the facts established through discreet
interrogation of madame la concierge that no enquiries had been made
for "Pierre Lamier," and that she had noticed no strange or otherwise
questionable characters loitering in the neighbourhood of late--he was
ready for his first real step toward rehabilitation....

It was past one in the morning when, with the girl on his arm, he
issued forth into the dark and drowsy rue des Acacias and, moving
swiftly, crossed the avenue de la Grande Armee. Thereafter, avoiding
main-travelled highways, they struck southward through tangled side
streets to aristocratic Passy, skirted the boulevards of the
fortifications, and approached the private park of La Muette.

The hotel particulier of that wealthy and amiable eccentric, Madame
Helene Omber, was a souvenir of those days when Passy had been suburban.
A survival of the Revolution, a vast, dour pile that had known few
changes since the days of its construction, it occupied a large, unkempt
park, irregularly triangular in shape, bounded by two streets and an
avenue, and rendered private by high walls crowned with broken glass.
Carriage gates opened on the avenue, guarded by a porter's lodge; while
of three posterns that pierced the walls on the side streets, one only
was in general use by the servants of the establishment; the other two
were presumed to be permanently sealed.

Lanyard, however, knew better.

When they had turned off from the avenue, he slackened pace and moved at
caution, examining the prospect narrowly.

On the one hand rose the wall of the park, topped by naked, soughing
limbs of neglected trees; on the other, across the way, a block of tall
old dwellings, withdrawn behind jealous garden walls, showed stupid,
sleepy faces and lightless eyes.

Within the perspective of the street but three shapes stirred; Lanyard
and the girl in the shadow of the wall, and a disconsolate, misprized
cat that promptly decamped like a terror-stricken ghost.

Overhead the sky was breaking and showing ebon patches and infrequent
stars through a wind-harried wrack of cloud. The night had grown
sensibly colder, and noisy with the rushing sweep of a new-sprung wind.

Several yards from the postern-gate, Lanyard paused definitely, and
spoke for the first time in many minutes; for the nature of their
errand had oppressed the spirits of both and enjoined an unnatural
silence, ever since their departure from the rue des Acacias.

"This is where we stop," he said, with a jerk of his head toward the
wall; "but it's not too late--"

"For what?" the girl asked quickly.

"I promised you no danger; but now I've thought it over, I can't
promise that: there's always danger. And I'm afraid for you. It's not
yet too late for you to turn back and wait for me in a safer place."

"You asked me to accompany you for a special purpose," she argued; "you
begged me to come with you, in fact.... Now that I have agreed and come
this far, I don't mean to turn back without good reason."

His gesture indicated uneasy acquiescence. "I should never have asked
this of you. I think I must have been a little mad. If anything should
come of this to injure you...!"

"If you mean to do what you promised--"

"Do you doubt my sincerity?"

"It was your own suggestion that you leave me no excuse for doubt..."

Without further remonstrance, if with a mind beset with misgivings, he
led on to the gate--a blank door of wood, painted a dark green, deeply
recessed in the wall.

In proof of his assertion that he had long since made every preparation
to attack the premises, Lanyard had a key ready and in the lock almost
before they reached it.

And the door swung back easily and noiselessly as though on well-greased
hinges. As silently it shut them in.

They stood upon a weed-grown gravel path, hedged about with thick masses
of shrubbery; but the park was as black as a pocket; and the heavy
effluvia of wet mould, decaying weeds and rotting leaves that choked the
air, seemed only to render the murk still more opaque.

But Lanyard evidently knew his way blindfold: though motives of prudence
made him refrain from using his flash-lamp, he betrayed not the least
incertitude in his actions.

Never once at loss for the right turning, he piloted the girl swiftly
through a bewildering black labyrinth of paths, lawns and thickets....

In due course he pulled up, and she discovered that they had come out
upon a clear space of lawn, close beside the featureless, looming bulk of
a dark and silent building.

An admonitory grasp tightened upon her fingers, and she caught his
singularly penetrating yet guarded whisper:

"This is the back of the house--the service-entrance. From this door a
broad path runs straight to the main service gateway; you can't mistake
it; and the gate itself has a spring lock, easy enough to open from the
inside. Remember this in event of trouble. We might become separated in
the darkness and confusion...."

Gently returning the pressure, "I understand," she said in a whisper.

Immediately he drew her on to the house, pausing but momentarily before a
wide doorway; one half of which promptly swung open, and as soon as they
had passed through, closed with no perceptible jar or click. And then
Lanyard's flash-lamp was lancing the gloom on every hand, swiftly raking
the bounds of a large, panelled servants' hall, until it picked out the
foot of a flight of steps at the farther end. To this they moved
stealthily over a tiled flooring.

The ascent of the staircase was accomplished, however, only with infinite
care, Lanyard testing each rise before trusting it with his weight or the
girl's. Twice he bade her skip one step lest the complaints of the ancient
woodwork betray them. In spite of all this, no less than three hideous
squeals were evoked before they gained the top; each indicating a pause
and wait of several breathless seconds.

But it would seem that such servants as had been left in the house, in
the absence of its chatelaine, either slept soundly or were accustomed to
the midnight concert of those age-old timbers; and without mischance, at
length, they entered the main reception-hall, revealed by the dancing
spot-light as a room of noble proportions furnished with sombre

Here the girl was left alone for a few minutes, while Lanyard darted
above-stairs for a review of the state bedchambers and servants'

With a sensation of being crushed and suffocated by the encompassing
dark mystery, she nerved herself against a protracted vigil. The
obscurity on every hand seemed alive with stealthy footfalls,
whisperings, murmurings, the passage of shrouded shapes of silence and
of menace. Her eyes ached, her throat and temples throbbed, her skin
crept, her scalp tingled. She seemed to hear a thousand different
noises of alarm. The only sounds she did not hear were
those--if any--that accompanied Lanyard's departure and return. Had he
not been thoughtful enough, when a few feet distant, to give warning
with the light, she might well have greeted with a cry of fright the
consciousness of a presence near her: so silently he moved about. As it
was, she was startled, apprehensive of some misadventure, to find him
back so soon; for he hadn't been gone three minutes.

"It's quite all right," he announced in hushed accents--no longer
whispering. "There are just five people in the house aside from
ourselves--all servants, asleep in the rear wing. We've got a clear
field--if no excuse for taking foolish chances! However, we'll be
finished and off again in less than ten minutes. This way."

That way led to a huge and gloomy library at one extreme of a chain of
great salons, a veritable treasure-gallery of exquisite furnishings and
authentic old masters. As they moved slowly through these chambers
Lanyard kept his flash-lamp busy; involuntarily, now and again, he
checked the girl before some splendid canvas or extraordinary antique.

"I've always meant to happen in some day with a moving-van and loot this
place properly!" he confessed with a little affected sigh. "Considered
from the viewpoint of an expert practitioner in my--ah--late profession,
it's a sin and a shame to let all this go neglected, when it's so
poorly guarded. The old lady--Madame Omber, you know--has all the money
there is, approximately, and when she dies all these beautiful things
go to the Louvre; for she's without kith or kin."

"But how did she manage to accumulate them all?" the girl wondered.
"It's the work of generations of passionate collectors," he explained.
"The late Monsieur Omber was the last of his dynasty; he and his
forebears brought together the paintings and the furniture; madame added
the Orientals gathered together by her first husband, and her own
collection of antique jewellery and precious stones--_her_ particular

As he spoke the light of the flash-lamp was blotted out. An instant
later the girl heard a little clashing noise, of curtain rings sliding
along a pole; and this was thrice repeated.

Then, following another brief pause, a switch clicked; and streaming from
the hood of a portable desk-lamp, a pool of light flooded the heart of a
vast place of shadows, an apartment whose doors and windows alike were
cloaked with heavy draperies that hung from floor to ceiling in long and
shining folds. Immense black bookcases lined the walls, their shelves
crowded with volumes in rich bindings; from their tops pallid marble masks
peered down inquisitively, leering and scowling at the intruders. A huge
mantelpiece of carved marble, supporting a great, dark mirror, occupied
the best of one wall, beneath it a wide, deep fireplace yawned, partly
shielded by a screen of wrought brass and crystal. In the middle of the
room stood a library table of mahogany; huge leather chairs and couches
encumbered the remainder of its space. And the corner to the right of the
fireplace was shut off by a high Japanese screen of cinnabar and gold.

To this Lanyard moved confidently, carrying the lamp. Placing it on the
floor, he grasped one wing of the screen with both hands, and at cost of
considerable effort swung it aside, uncovering the face of a huge,
old-style safe built into the wall.

For several seconds--but not for many--Lanyard studied this problem
intently, standing quite motionless, his head lowered and thrust forward,
hands resting on his hips. Then turning, he nodded an invitation to draw

"My last job," he said with a smile oddly lighted by the lamp at his
feet--"and my easiest, I fancy. Sorry, too, for I'd rather have liked to
show off a bit. But this old-fashioned tin bank gives no excuse for
spectacular methods!"

"But," the girl objected, "You've brought no tools!"

"Oh, but I have!" And fumbling in a pocket, Lanyard produced a pencil.
"Behold!" he laughed, brandishing it.

She knitted thoughtful brows: "I don't understand."

"All I need--except this."

Crossing to the desk, he found a sheet of note-paper and, folding it,

"Now," he said, "give me five minutes...."

Kneeling, he gave the combination-knob a smart preliminary twirl, then
rested a shoulder against the sheet of painted iron, his cheek to its
smooth, cold cheek, his ear close beside the dial; and with the
practised fingers of a master locksmith began to manipulate the knob.

Gently, tirelessly, to and fro he twisted, turned, raced, and checked
the combination, caressing it, humouring it, wheedling it, inexorably
questioning it in the dumb language his fingers spoke so deftly. And in
his ear the click and whir and thump of shifting wards and tumblers
murmured articulate response in the terms of their cryptic code.

Now and again, releasing the knob and sitting back on his heels, he
would bend intent scrutiny to the dial; note the position of the
combination, and with the pencil jot memoranda on the paper. This
happened perhaps a dozen times, at intervals of irregular duration.

He worked diligently, in a phase of concentration that apparently
excluded from his consciousness the near proximity of the girl, who
stood--or rather stooped, half-kneeling--less than a pace from his
shoulder, watching the process with interest hardly less keen than his

Yet when one faint, odd sound broke the slumberous silence of the
salons, instantly he swung around and stood erect in a single movement,
gaze to the curtains.

But it had only been a premonitory rumble in the throat of a tall old
clock about to strike in the room beyond. And as its sonorous chimes
heralded two deep-toned strokes, Lanyard laughed quietly, intimately,
to the girl's startled eyes, and sank back before the safe.

And now his task was nearly finished. Within another minute he sat back
with face aglow, uttered a hushed exclamation of satisfaction, studied
his memoranda for a space, then swiftly and with assured movements
threw the knob and dial into the several positions of the combination,
grasped the lever-handle, turned it smartly, and swung the door wide

"Simple, eh?" he chuckled, with a glance aside to the girl's eager face,
bewitchingly flushed and shadowed by the lamp's up-thrown glow--"when
one knows the trick, of course! And now ... if one were not an honest

A wave of his hand indicated the pigeonholes with which the body of the
safe was fitted: wide spaces and deep, stored tight with an
extraordinary array of leather jewel-cases, packets of stout paper
bound with tape and sealed, and boxes of wood and pasteboard of every
shape and size.

"They were only her finest pieces, her personal jewels, that Madame
Omber took with her to England," he explained; "she's mad about
them ... never separated from them.... Perhaps the finest collection in
the world, for size and purity of water.... She had the heart to leave
these--all this!"

Lifting a hand he chose at random, dislodged two leather cases, placed
them on the floor, and with a blade of his pen-knife forced their

From the first the light smote radiance in blinding, coruscant welter.
Here was nothing but diamond jewellery, mostly in antique settings.

He took up a piece and offered it to the girl. She drew back her hand

"No!" she protested in a whisper of fright.

"But just look!" he urged. "There's no danger ... and you'll never see
the like of this again!"

Stubbornly she withheld her hand. "No, no!" she pleaded. "I--I'd rather
not touch it. Put it back. Let's hurry. I--I'm frightened."

He shrugged and replaced the jewel; then yielded again to impulse of
curiosity and lifted the lid of the second case.

It contained nothing but pieces set with coloured stones of the first
order--emeralds, amethysts, sapphires, rubies, topaz, garnets,
lapis-lazuli, jacinthes, jades, fashioned by master-craftsmen into
rings, bracelets, chains, brooches, lockets, necklaces, of exquisite
design: the whole thrown heedlessly together, without order or care.

For a moment the adventurer stared down soberly at this priceless hoard,
his eyes narrowing, his breathing perceptibly quickened. Then with a
slow gesture, he reclosed the case, took from his pocket that other
which he had brought from London, opened it, and held it aside beneath
the light, for the girl's inspection.

He looked not once either at its contents or at her, fearing lest his
countenance betray the truth, that he had not yet succeeded completely
in exorcising that mutinous and rebellious spirit, the Lone Wolf, from
the tenement over which it had so long held sway; and content with the
sound of her quick, startled sigh of amaze that what she now beheld
could so marvellously outshine what had been disclosed by the other
boxes, he withdrew it, shut it, found it a place in the safe, and
without pause closed the door, shot the bolts, and twirled the dial
until the tumblers fairly sang.

One final twist of the lever-handle convincing him that the combination

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