Part 5 out of 5
the crowds to admire, and every one soon forgot that it was not
really the diamond. For myself, I think the directors acted most
wisely. And now," he added, with a gesture toward the glittering
heaps, "what shall we do with all this?" "There's only one thing to
do," said Grady, awaking suddenly as from a trance, "and that's to
get them in a safe-deposit box as quick as possible. There's no
police-safe I'd trust with 'em! Why, they'd tempt the angel Gabriel!"
and he drew a deep breath.
"Can we find a box of safe-deposit at this hour of the night?" asked
M. Pigot, glancing at his watch. "It is almost one o'clock and a
"That's easy in New York," said Grady. "We'll take 'em over to the
Day and Night Bank on Fifth Avenue. It never closes. Wait till I get
something to put 'em in."
He went out and came back presently with a small valise.
"This will do," he said. "Stow 'em away, and I'll call up the bank
and arrange for the box."
Simmonds and Pigot rolled up the packets carefully and placed them in
the valise, while I sat watching them in a kind of daze. And I
understood the temptation which would assail a man in the presence of
so much beauty. It was not the value of the jewels which shook and
dazzled me--I scarcely thought of that; it was their seductive
brilliance, it was the thought that, if I possessed them, I might
take them out at any hour of the day or night and run my fingers
through them and watch them shimmer and quiver in the light.
"The Grand Duke Michael must have been considerably upset," remarked
Simmonds, who, throughout all this scene, had lost no whit of his
serenity of demeanour.
"He has been like a madman," said M. Pigot, smiling a little at
Simmonds's unemotional tone. "These jewels are a passion with him; he
worships them; he never has parted with them, even for a day; where
he goes, they have gone. In his most desperate need of money--and he
has had such need many times--he has never sold one of his
brilliants. On the contrary, whenever he has money or credit, and the
opportunity comes to purchase a stone of unusual beauty, he cannot
resist, even though his debts go unpaid. Since the loss of these
stones, he has raved, he has cursed, he has beat his servants--one of
them has died, in consequence. We are all a little mad on some one
subject, I have heard it said; well, the Grand Duke Michael is very
mad on the subject of diamonds."
"Why didn't he offer a reward for their return?" queried Simmonds.
"Oh, he did," said M. Pigot. "He offered immediately his whole
fortune for their return. But his fortune was not large enough to
tempt Crochard, for the Grand Duke really has nothing but the income
from his family estates, and you may well believe that he spends all
of it. It will be a great joy to him that we have found them."
The thought flashed through my mind that doubtless M. Pigot was in
the way of receiving a handsome present.
"There they are," said Simmonds, and closed the bag with a snap, as
Grady came in again.
"I've arranged for the box," said Grady, "and one of our wagons is at
the door. I thought we'd better not trust a taxi--might turn over or
run into something, and we can't afford to take any chances--not this
trip. Simmonds, you go along with Moosseer Piggott, and put an extra
man on the seat with the driver. Maybe that Croshar might try to hold
The same thought was in my own mind, for Crochard must have learned
of M. Pigot's arrival; and I could scarcely imagine that he would sit
quietly by and permit the jewels to be taken away from him--to say
nothing of his chagrin over his unfulfilled boast to Godfrey. So I
was relieved that Grady was wise enough to take no risk.
"You'd better get a receipt," Grady went on, "and arrange that the
valise is to be delivered only when you and Moosseer Piggott appear
together. That will be satisfactory, moosseer?" he added, turning to
"Entirely so, sir."
"Very well, then; I'll see you in the morning. I congratulate you on
the find. It was certainly great work."
"I thank you, sir," replied M. Pigot, gravely. "Au revoir, monsieur,"
and with a bow to me, he followed Simmonds into the outer room.
Grady sat down and got out a fresh cigar.
"Well, Mr. Lester," he said, as he struck a match, "what do you think
of these Frenchmen, anyway?"
"They're marvellous," I said. "Even yet I can't understand how he
knew so much."
"Maybe he was just guessing at some of it," Grady suggested.
"I thought of that; but I don't believe anybody could guess so
accurately. For instance, how did he know about those letters?"
"Fact is," broke in Grady, "that's the first I'd heard of 'em. What
_is_ that story?"
I told him the story briefly, carefully suppressing everything which
would give him a clue to the identity of the veiled lady.
"There were certain details," I added, "which I supposed were known
to no one except myself and two other persons--and yet M. Pigot knew
them. Then again, how did he know so certainly just how the mechanism
worked? How did he know which roll of cotton contained that Mazarin
diamond? You will remember he told us what was in that roll before he
Grady smiled good-naturedly and a little patronisingly.
"That was the last roll, wasn't it?" he demanded. "Since that big
diamond hadn't shown up in any of the others, he knew it had to be in
that roll. It was just one of the little plays for effect them
Frenchies are so fond of."
"Perhaps you are right," I agreed. "But it seemed to me that he
handled that mechanism as though he was familiar with it. Of course,
he may have prepared himself by studying the drawings which no doubt
accompany the secret memoir. He may even have had a working model
Grady nodded tolerantly.
"Them fellers go to a lot of trouble over little things like that,"
he said. "They like to slam their cards down on the table with a big
hurrah, even when the cards ain't worth a damn."
"He certainly held trumps this time, anyway," I commented. "And he
played his hand superbly. He is an extraordinary man."
"And a great actor," Grady supplemented. "Them fellers always behave
like they was on the stage, right in the spot-light. It makes me a
little tired, sometimes. Hello! Who's that?"
The front door had been flung open; there was an instant's colloquy
with the desk-sergeant, then a rapid step crossed the outer room, and
Godfrey burst in upon us.
He cast a rapid glance at the Boule cabinet, at the secret drawer
standing open, empty; and then his eyes rested upon Grady.
"So he got away with it, did he?" he inquired.
"Who in hell do you think you are?" shouted Grady, his face purple,
"coming in here like this? Get out, or I'll have you thrown out!"
"Oh, I'll go," retorted Godfrey coolly. "I've seen all I care to see.
Only I'll tell you one thing, Grady--you've signed your own
"What do you mean by that?" Grady demanded, in a lower tone.
"I mean that you won't last an hour after the story of this night's
work gets out."
Grady's colour slowly faded as he met the burning and contemptuous
gaze Godfrey turned upon him. As for me, an awful fear had gripped my
"Do you mean to say it wasn't Piggott?" stammered Grady, at last.
Godfrey laughed scornfully.
"No, you blithering idiot!" he said. "It wasn't Pigot. It was
And he stalked out, slamming the door behind him.
THE FATE OF M. PIGOT
Whatever may have been Grady's defects of insight and imagination, he
was energetic enough when thoroughly aroused. Almost before the echo
of that slamming door had died away, he was beside the sergeant's
"Get out the reserves," he ordered, "and have the other wagon around.
'Phone headquarters to rush every man available up to the Day and
Night Bank, and say it's from me!"
He stood chewing his cigar savagely as the sergeant hastened to obey.
In a moment, the reserves came tumbling out, struggling into their
coats; there was a clatter of hoofs in the street as the wagon dashed
up; the reserves piled into it, permitting me to crowd in beside
them, Grady jumped to the seat beside the driver, and we were off at
a gallop, our gong waking the echoes of the silent street.
I clung to the hand-rail as the wagon swayed back and forth or
bounded into the air as it struck the car-tracks, and stared out into
the night, struggling to understand. Could Godfrey be right? But of
course he was right! Some intuition told me that; and yet, how had
Crochard managed to substitute himself for the French detective?
Where was Pigot? Was he lying somewhere in a crumpled heap, with a
tiny wound upon his hand? But that could not be--Grady and Simmonds
had been with him all the evening! And could that aged Frenchman with
the white, fine, wrinkled skin be also the bronzed and virile
personage whom I had known as Felix Armand? My reason reeled before
the seeming impossibility of it--and yet, somehow, I knew that
Godfrey was right!
The wagon came to a stop so suddenly that I was thrown violently
against the man next to me, and the reserves, leaping out, swept me
before them. We were in front of the Day and Night Bank, and at a
word from Grady, the men spread into a close cordon before the
Another police wagon stood at the curb, with the driver still on the
seat, but as Grady started toward it, a figure appeared at the door
of the bank and shouted to us--shouted in inarticulate words which I
could not understand. But Grady seemed to understand them, and went
up the steps two at a time, with an agility surprising in so large a
man, and which I was hard put to it to match. A little group stood at
one side of the vestibule looking down at some one extended on a
cushioned seat. And, an instant later, I saw that it was Simmonds,
lying on his back, his eyes open and staring apparently at the
But, at the second glance, I saw that the eyes were sightless.
Grady elbowed his way savagely through the group.
"Where's Kelly?" he demanded.
At the words, a white-faced man in uniform arose from a chair into
which he had plainly dropped exhausted.
"Oh, there you are!" and Grady glowered at him ferociously. "Now tell
me what happened--and tell it quick!"
"Why, sir," stammered Kelly, "there wasn't anything happened. Only
when we stopped out there at the curb and I got down and opened the
door, there wasn't nobody in the wagon but Mr. Simmonds. I spoke to
him and he didn't answer--and then I touched him and he kind of fell
over--and then I rushed in here and 'phoned the station; but they
said you'd already started for the bank; and then we went out and
brought him in here--and that's all I know, sir."
"You didn't hear anything--no sound of a struggle?"
"Not a sound, sir; not a single sound."
"And you haven't any idea where the other man got out?"
"Mr. Simmonds had a little valise with him--did you notice it?"
"Yes, sir; and I looked for it in the wagon, but it ain't there."
Grady turned away with a curse as four or five men ran in from the
street--the men from headquarters, I told myself. I could hear him
talking to them in sharp, low tones, and then they departed as
suddenly as they had come. The reserves also hurried away, and I
concluded that Grady was trying to throw a net about the territory in
which the fugitive was probably concealed; but my interest in that
manoeuvre was overshadowed, for the time being, by my anxiety for
Simmonds. I picked up his right hand and looked at it; then I drew a
deep breath of relief, for it was uninjured.
"Has anyone sent for a doctor?" I asked.
"Yes, sir," one of the bank attaches answered. "We telephoned for one
at once--here he is, now!" he added, as a little black-bearded man
entered, carry the inevitably-identifying medicine case.
The newcomer glanced at the body, waved us back, fell on one knee,
stripped away the clothing from the breast and applied his ear to the
heart. Then he looked into the staring eyes, drew down the lids,
watched them snap up again, and then hastily opened his case.
"Let's have some water," he said.
"Then he's not dead?" I questioned, as one of the clerks sprang to
"Dead? No; but he's had a taste or whiff of something that has
stopped the heart action."
With a queer, creepy feeling over my scalp, I remembered the little
flask half-full of blood-red liquid which Crochard carried in his
But he had not meant murder this time; I remembered that Godfrey had
said he never killed an adversary. The doctor worked briskly away,
and, at the end of a few minutes, Simmonds's eyes suddenly closed, he
drew a long breath, and sat erect. Then his eyes opened, and he sat
swaying unsteadily and staring amazedly about him.
"Best lie down again," said the doctor soothingly. "You're a little
wobbly yet, you know."
"Where am I?" gasped Simmonds. Then his eyes encountered mine.
"Lester!" he said. "Where is he--Piggott? Not...."
He stopped short, looked once around at the gleaming marble of the
bank, fumbled for something at his side, and fell senseless on the
I have no recollection of how I got back to the Marathon. I suppose I
must have walked; but my first distinct remembrance is of finding
myself sitting in my favourite chair, pipe in hand. The pipe was lit,
so I suppose I must have lighted it mechanically, and I found that I
had also mechanically changed into my lounging-coat. I glanced at my
watch and saw that it was nearly four o'clock.
The top of my head was burning as though with fever, and I went into
the bathroom and turned the cold water on it. The shock did me a
world of good, and by the time I had finished a vigorous toweling I
felt immensely better. So I returned to my chair and sat down to
review the events of the evening; but I found that somehow my brain
refused to work, and black circles began to whirl before my eyes
"I told Godfrey I couldn't stand any more of this," I muttered, and
stumbled into my bedroom, undressed with difficulty, and turned out
Then, as I lay there, staring up into the darkness, a stinging
thought brought me upright.
Godfrey--where was Godfrey? Was he on the track of Crochard? Was he
daring a contest with him? Perhaps, even at this moment....
Scarcely knowing what I did, I groped my way to the telephone and
asked for Godfrey's number--hoping against hope absurdly--and at
last, to my intense surprise and relief, I heard his voice--not a
very amiable voice....
"Hello!" he said.
"Godfrey," I began, "it's Lester. He got away."
"Of course he got away. You didn't call me out of bed to tell me
that, I hope?"
"Then you knew about it?"
"I knew he'd get away."
"When the wagon got to the bank there was nobody inside but Simmonds.
Simmonds went along, you know."
"Was he hurt?"
"He was unconscious, but he came around all right."
"That's good--but Crochard wouldn't hurt him. He got away with the
jewels, of course?"
"Of course," I assented, surprised that Godfrey should take it so
coolly. "When you rushed out that way," I added, "I thought maybe you
were going after him."
"With him twenty minutes in the lead? I'm no such fool! He got away
from me the other day with a start of about half a second."
"I tried to get you," I explained, "as soon as Simmonds told me they
were going to look at the cabinet. I 'phoned the office. The city
editor said he had sent you out into Westchester."
Godfrey laughed shortly.
"It was a wild-goose chase," he said, "cooked up by our friend
Crochard. But even then, I'd have got back, if we hadn't punctured a
tire when we were five miles from anywhere. I knew what was up--but
there I was. Oh, he's made fools of us all, Lester. I told you he
"Then you didn't get my message?"
"Yes--they gave it to me when I 'phoned in that the Westchester
business was a fake. I rushed for the station, though I knew I'd be
"But, Godfrey," I said, "I can't understand, even yet, how he did it.
Grady and Simmonds left the boat with Pigot and were with him all
evening, showing him the sights. How did Crochard get into it? What
did he do with Pigot? Where _is_ Pigot?"
"He's on the _Savoie._ I rushed a wireless down to her as soon as I
left the station. They made a search and found Pigot bound and gagged
under the berth in his stateroom."
I could only gasp.
"And to think I didn't suspect!" added Godfrey, bitterly. "We stood
there and saw that yacht with the French flag walk away from us; we
saw her put a man aboard the _Savoie_; we saw that man talking to
"Yes," I said, breathlessly; "yes."
"Well, that man was Crochard. He got Pigot into his stateroom--gave
him a whiff of the same stuff he used on Simmonds, no doubt; put him
out of the way under the berth; got into his clothes, made up his
face, _put_ on a wig--and all that while we were kicking our heels
outside waiting for him."
"But it was a tremendous risk," I said. "There were so many people on
board who knew Pigot--it would have to be a perfect disguise."
"Crochard wouldn't stop for that. But it wasn't much of a risk. None
of us had seen Pigot closely; all we had seen of him was the back of
his head; and the passengers were all on deck watching the quarantine
men. And yet, of course, the disguise was a perfect one. Crochard is
an artist in that line, and he was, no doubt, thoroughly familiar
with Pigot's appearance. He deceived the purser--but the purser
wouldn't suspect anything!"
"So it was really Crochard...."
"But _we_ ought to have suspected. We ought to have suspected
everything, questioned everything; I ought to have looked up that
visitor and found out what became of him. Instead of which, Crochard
put Pigot's papers in his pocket, set his bag outside the stateroom
door, and then came out calmly to meet his dear friends of the press;
and I stood there talking to him like a little schoolboy--no wonder
he thinks I'm a fool!"
"But nobody would have suspected!" I gasped. "Why, that man is-
"A genius," said Godfrey. "An absolute and unquestioned genius. But I
knew that all the time, and I ought to have been on guard. You
remember he said he would come to-day?"
"And you didn't believe it."
"I can't believe it yet."
"There's one consolation--it will break Grady."
"But, Godfrey," I said, "if you could have seen those diamonds--those
beautiful diamonds--and to think he should be able to get away with
them from right under our noses!"
"It's pretty bad, isn't it? But there's no use crying over spilt
milk. Lester," he added, in another tone, "I want you to be in your
office at noon to-morrow--or rather, to-day."
"All right," I promised; "I'll be there."
"Don't fail me. There is one act of the comedy still to be played."
"I'll be there," I said again. "But I'm afraid the last act will be
an anti-climax. Look here, Godfrey...."
"Now go to bed," he broke in; "you're talking like a somnambulist.
Get some sleep. Have you arranged for that vacation?"
"Godfrey," I said, "tell me...."
"I won't tell you anything. Only I've got one more bomb to explode,
Lester, and it's a big one. It will make you jump!"
I could hear him chuckling to himself.
"Good-night," he said, and hung up.
THE LAST ACT OF THE DRAMA
I overslept, next morning, so outrageously that it was not until I
had got a seat in a subway express that I had time to open my paper.
My first glance was for the big head that would tell of the diamond
robbery; and then I realised that no morning paper would have a word
of it. For the robbery was only a few hours old--and yet, it seemed
to me an age had passed since that moment when Godfrey had rushed in
upon Grady and me. So the city moved on, as yet blissfully
unconscious of the sensation which would be sprung with the first
afternoon editions, and over which reporters and artists and
photographers were even now, no doubt, labouring. I promised myself a
happy half hour in reading Godfrey's story!
It was then that I remembered the appointment for twelve o'clock. The
last act of the drama was yet to be staged, Godfrey had said, and he
had also spoken of a bomb--a big one! I wondered what it could be,
One thing was certain: if Godfrey had prepared it, its explosion
would be startling enough!
There were a number of things at the office demanding my attention,
and I was so late in getting there and the morning passed so rapidly
that when the office-boy came in and announced that Mr. Grady and Mr.
Simmonds were outside and wished to see me, I did not, for a moment,
connect their visit with Godfrey. Then I looked at my watch, saw that
it was five minutes to twelve, and realised that the actors were
"Show them in," I said, and they entered together a minute later.
Grady was evidently much perturbed. His usually florid face was drawn
and haggard, his cheeks hung in ugly lines, there were dark pouches
under his eyes, and the eyes themselves were blood-shot. I guessed
that he had not been to bed; that he had spent the night searching
for Crochard--and it was easy enough to see that the search had been
unsuccessful. Simmonds, too, was looking rather shaky, and no doubt
still felt the after-effects of that whiff of poison.
"I'm glad to see you are better, Simmonds," I said, shaking hands
with him. "That was a close call."
"It certainly was," Simmonds agreed, sinking into a chair. "If I had
got a little more of it, I'd never have waked up."
"Do you remember anything about it?"
"Not a thing. One minute we were sitting there talking together as
nice as you please--and the next thing I knew was when I woke up in
"Where's that man Godfrey?" broke in Grady.
"He said he'd be here at noon," I said, and glanced at my watch.
"It's noon now. Were you to meet him here?"
Grady glanced at me suspiciously.
"Don't you know nothing about it?" he asked.
"I only know that Godfrey asked me to be here at noon to-day. What's
"Blamed if I know," said Grady sulkily. "I got word from him that I'd
better be here, and I thought maybe he might know something. I'm so
dizzy over last night's business that I'm running around in circles
this morning. But I won't wait for him. He can't make me do that!
Come along, Simmonds."
"Wait a minute," I broke in, as the outer door opened. "Perhaps
that's Godfrey, now."
And so it proved. He came in accompanied by a man whom I knew to be
Arthur Shearrow, chief counsel for the _Record_.
Godfrey nodded all around.
"I think you know Mr. Shearrow," he said, placing on my desk a small
leather bag he was carrying. "This is Mr. Lester, Mr. Shearrow," he
added, and we shook hands. "The object of this conference, Lester,"
he concluded, "is to straighten out certain matters connected with
the Michaelovitch diamonds--and incidentally to give the _Record_ the
biggest scoop it has had for months."
"I ain't here to fix up no scoop for the _Record_", broke in Grady.
"That paper never did treat me right."
"It has treated you as well as you deserved," retorted Godfrey. "I'm
going to talk plainly to you, Grady. Your goose is cooked. You can't
hold on for an hour after last night's get-away becomes public."
"We'll see about that!" growled Grady, but the fight had evidently
been taken out of him.
"I understand you wouldn't let Simmonds telephone for me last night?"
"That's right--it wasn't none of your business."
"Perhaps not. And yet, if I had been there, the cleverest thief in
Paris, if not in the world, would be safe behind those chrome-nickle
steel bars at the Twenty-third Street station, instead of at liberty
to go ahead and rob somebody else."
"You're mighty cocksure," retorted Grady. "It's easy to be wise after
it's all over."
"Well, I'm not going to argue with you," said Godfrey. "I admit it
was a good disguise, and a clever idea--but, just the same, you ought
to have seen through it. That's your business."
Grady mopped his face.
"Oh, of course!" he sneered. "I ought to have seen through it! I
ought to have suspected, even when I found you tryin' to interview
him; even when I got him off the boat myself; even when I went
through his papers and found them all right--yes, even to the
photograph on his passport! That's plain enough now, ain't it! If
people only had as good foresight as they have hindsight, how easy it
"Look here, Grady," said Godfrey, more kindly, "I haven't anything
against you personally, and I admit that it was foolish of me to
stand there talking to Crochard and never suspect who he was. But
that's all beside the mark. You're at the head of the detective
bureau, and you're the man who is responsible for all this. You're
energetic enough and all that; but you're not fit for your job--it's
too big for you, and you know it. Take my advice, and go to the
'phone there and send in your resignation."
Grady stared at him as though unable to believe his ears.
"'Phone in my resignation!" he echoed. "What kind of a fool do you
think I am?"
"I see you're a bigger one than I thought you were! Your pull can't
help you any longer, Grady."
"Was it to tell me that you got me over here?"
"No," said Godfrey, "all this is just incidental--you began the
discussion yourself, didn't you? I got you here to meet...."
The outer door opened again, and Godfrey looked toward it, smiling.
"Moosseer Piggott!" announced the office-boy.
And then I almost bounced from my seat, for I would have sworn that
the man who stood on the threshold was the man who had opened the
He came forward, looking from face to face; then his eyes met
Godfrey's and he smiled.
"Behold that I am here, monsieur," he said and I started anew at the
voice, for it was the voice of Crochard. "I hope that I have not kept
"Not at all, M. Pigot," Godfrey assured him, and placed a chair for
I could see Grady and Simmonds gripping the arms of their chairs and
staring at the newcomer, their mouths open; and I knew the thought
that was flashing through their brains. Was this Pigot? Or was the
man who had opened the cabinet Pigot? Or was neither Pigot? Was it
possible that this could be a different man than the one who had
opened the cabinet?
I confess that some such thought flashed through my own mind--a
suspicion that Godfrey, in some way, was playing with us.
Godfrey looked about at us, smiling as he saw our expressions.
"I went down the bay this morning and met the _Savoie_," he said. "I
related to M. Pigot last night's occurrences, and begged him to be
present at this meeting. He was good enough to agree. I assure you,"
he added, seeing Grady's look, "that this _is_ M. Pigot, of the Paris
_Service du Surete,_ and not Crochard."
"Oh, yes," said M. Pigot, with a deprecating shrug. "I am myself--and
greatly humiliated that I should have fallen so readily into the trap
which Crochard set for me. But he is a very clever man."
"It was certainly a marvellous disguise," I said. "It was more than
that--it was an impersonation."
"Crochard has had occasion to study me," explained M. Pigot, drily.
"And he is an artist in whatever he does. But some day I shall get
him--every pitcher to the well goes once too often. There is no hope
of finding him here in New York?"
"I am afraid not," said Godfrey.
"Don't be too sure of that!" broke in Grady ponderously. "I ain't
done yet--not by no manner of means!"
"Pardon me for not introducing you, M. Pigot," said Godfrey. "This
gentleman is Mr. Grady, who has been the head of our detective
bureau; this is Mr. Simmonds, a member of his staff; this is Mr.
Lester, an attorney and friend of mine; and this is Mr. Shearrow, my
personal counsel. Mr. Grady, Mr. Simmonds and Mr. Lester were
present, last night," he added blandly, "when Crochard opened the
Grady reddened visibly, and even I felt my face grow hot. M. Pigot
looked at us with a smile of amusement.
"It must have been a most interesting experience," he said, "to have
seen Crochard at work. I have never had that privilege. But I regret
that he should have made good his escape."
"More especially since he took the Michaelovitch diamonds with him,"
"Before we go into that," said Godfrey, with a little smile, "there
are one or two questions I should like to ask you, M. Pigot, in order
to clear up some minor details which are as yet a little obscure. Is
it true that the theft of the Michaelovitch diamonds was planned by
"Undoubtedly. No other thief in France would be capable of it."
"Is it also true that no direct evidence could be found against him?"
"That also is true, monsieur. He had arranged the affair so cleverly
that we were wholly unable to convict him, unless we should find him
with the stolen brilliants in his possession."
"And you were not able to do that?"
"No; we could discover no trace of the brilliants, though we searched
for them everywhere."
"But you did not know of the Boule cabinet and of the secret drawer?"
"No; of that we knew nothing. I must examine that famous cabinet."
"It is worth examining. And it has an interesting history. But you
did know, of course, that Crochard would seek a market for the
diamonds here in America?"
"We knew that he would try to do so, and we did everything in our
power to prevent it. We especially relied upon your customs
department to search most thoroughly the belongings of every person
with whom they were not personally acquainted."
"The customs people did their part," said Godfrey with a chuckle.
"They have quite upset the country! But the diamonds got in, in spite
of them. For, of course, a cabinet imported by a man so well known
and so above suspicion as Mr. Vantine was passed without question!"
"Yes," agreed M. Pigot, a little bitterly. "It was a most clever
plan; and now, no doubt, Crochard can sell the brilliants at his
"Not if you've got a good description of them," protested Grady.
"I'll make it a point to warn every dealer in the country; I'll keep
my whole force on the job; I'll get Chief Wilkie to lend me some of
"Oh, there is no use taking all that trouble," broke in Godfrey,
negligently. "Crochard won't try to sell them."
"Won't try to sell them?" echoed Grady. "What's the reason he won't?"
"Because he hasn't got them," answered Godfrey, smiling with an
evidently deep enjoyment of Grady's dazed countenance.
"Oh, come off!" said that worthy disgustedly. "If he hasn't got 'em
I'd like to know who has!"
"I have," said Godfrey, and cleared my desk with a sweep of his arm.
"Spread out your handkerchief, Lester," and as I dazedly obeyed, he
picked up the little leather bag, opened it, and poured out its
contents in a sparkling flood. "There," he added, turning to Grady,
"are the Michaelovitch diamonds."
CROCHARD WRITES AN EPILOGUE
For an instant, we gazed at the glittering heap with dazzled eyes;
then Grady, with an inarticulate cry, sprang to his feet and picked
up a handful of the diamonds, as though to convince himself of their
"But I don't understand!" he gasped. "Have you got Croshar too?"
"No such luck," said Godfrey.
"Do you mean to say he'd give these up without a fight!"
The same thought was in my own mind; if Godfrey had run down Crochard
and got the diamonds, without a life-and-death struggle, that
engaging rascal must be much less formidable than I had supposed.
"My dear Grady," said Godfrey, "I haven't seen Crochard since the
minute you took him off the boat. I'd have had him, if you had let
Simmonds call me. That's what I had planned. But he was too clever
for us. I knew that he would come to-day...."
"You knew that he would come to-day?" repeated Grady blankly. "How
did you know that--or is it merely hot air?"
"I knew that he would come," said Godfrey, curtly, "because he wrote
and told me so."
M. Pigot laughed a dry little laugh.
"That is a favourite device of his," he said; "and he always keeps
"The trouble was," continued Godfrey, "that I didn't look for him so
early in the day, and so he was able to send me on a wild-goose chase
after a sensation that didn't exist. There's where I was a fool. But
I discovered the secret drawer ten days ago--while the cabinet was
still at Vantine's--the evening after the veiled lady got her
letters. It was easy enough. I am surprised you didn't think of it,
"Think of what?" I asked.
"Of the key to the mystery. The drawer containing the letters was on
the left side of the desk; I saw at once that there must be another
drawer, opened in the same way, on the right side."
"I didn't see it," I said. "I don't see it yet."
"Think a minute. Why was Drouet killed? Because he opened the wrong
drawer. He pressed the combination at the right side of the desk,
instead of that at the left side. The fair Julie must have thought
the drawer was on the right side, instead of the left. It was a
mistake very easy to make, since her mistress doubtless had her back
turned when Julie saw her open the drawer. The suspicion that it was
Julie's mistake becomes certainty when she shows the combination to
Vantine, and he is killed, too. Besides, the veiled lady herself made
a remark which revealed the whole story."
"I didn't notice it," I said, resignedly. "What was it?"
"That she was accustomed to opening the drawer with her left hand,
instead of with her right. After that, there could be no further
doubt. So I discovered the drawer very simply. It had to be there."
"Yes," I said; "and then?"
"Then I removed the jewels, took them down to a dealer in paste gems
and duplicated them as closely as I could. I had a hard time getting
a good copy of this big rose-diamond."
He picked it from the heap and held it up between his fingers.
"It's a beauty, isn't it?" he asked.
M. Pigot smiled a dry smile.
"It is the Mazarin," he said, "and is worth three million francs.
There is a copy of it at the Louvre."
"So that's true, is it?" I asked. "Crochard told us the story."
"It is unquestionably true," said M. Pigot. "It is not a secret--it
is merely something which every one has forgotten."
"Well," continued Godfrey, "after I got the duplicates, I rolled them
up in the cotton packets, and placed them back in the drawer, being
careful to put the Mazarin at the bottom, where I had found it."
"It was lucky you thought of that," I said, "or Crochard would have
Godfrey looked at me with a smile.
"My dear Lester," he said, "he knew that the game was up the instant
he opened the first packet. Do you suppose he would be deceived? Not
by the best reproduction ever made!"
And then I remembered the slow flush which had crept into Crochard's
cheeks as he opened that first packet!
"I didn't expect to deceive him," Godfrey explained. "I just wanted
to give him a little surprise. And to think I wasn't there to see
"But if he knew they were imitations," I protested, "why should he go
to all that trouble to steal them?"
"That is what puzzled me last night," said Godfrey; "and, for that
matter, it puzzles me yet."
"Maybe he's got the real stones, after all," suggested Grady, who had
been listening to all this with incredulous countenance. "The story
sounds fishy to me. Maybe these are the imitations."
M. Pigot came forward and picked up the Mazarin and looked at it.
"This one, at least, is real," he said, after a moment. "And I have
no doubt the others are," he added, turning them over with his
Grady, still incredulous, picked up one of the brilliants, went to
the window, and drew it down the pane. It left a deep scratch behind
"Yes," he admitted reluctantly, "I guess they're diamonds, all
right," and he sat down again.
"And now, gentlemen," continued Godfrey, who had watched Grady's
byplay with a tolerant smile, "I am ready to turn these diamonds over
to you. I should like you to count them, and give me a receipt for
"And then, of course, you will write the story," sneered Grady, "and
give yourself all the credit."
"Well," asked Godfrey, looking at him, "do you think you deserve
any?" And Grady could only crimson and keep silent. "As for the
story, it is already written. It will be on the streets in ten
minutes--and it will create a sensation. Please count the diamonds.
You will find two hundred and ten of them."
"That is the exact number stolen from the Grand Duke," remarked M.
Pigot, and fell to counting. The number was two hundred and ten.
"Mr. Shearrow has the receipt," Godfrey added, and Shearrow took a
paper from his pocket, unfolded it, and read the contents.
It proved to be not only a receipt, but a full statement of the facts
of the case, without omitting the details of the robbery and the
credit due the _Record_ for the recovery of the diamonds. Grady's
face grew redder and redder as the reading proceeded.
"I won't sign no such testimonial as that," he blustered. "Not on
your life I won't!"
"You will sign it, will you not, M. Pigot?" asked Godfrey.
"Certainly," said the Frenchman; "it is a recognition of your
services very well deserved," and he stepped forward and signed it
with a flourish.
"Now, Simmonds," said Godfrey.
"No you don't!" broke in Grady. "Stay where you are, Simmonds. I
forbid you to sign that. Remember, I'm your superior officer."
"No, he's not, Simmonds," said Godfrey, quietly. "He hasn't been an
officer at all for an hour and more."
Grady sprang to his feet, his eyes blazing, and strode toward
"What do you mean by that?" he shouted.
"I mean," said Godfrey, looking him squarely in the eye, "that Mr.
Shearrow and myself had a talk with the mayor this morning, and laid
before him certain evidence in our possession--this latest case among
others--and that your resignation was accepted at noon to-day."
"My resignation!" snorted Grady. "I never wrote one!"
"Tell the public that, if you want to," retorted Godfrey coldly.
"That's your affair. You ought to have 'phoned it in when I told you
to. Now, Simmonds."
Grady stood glaring about him an instant, like an enraged bull, and I
half expected him to hurl himself on Godfrey; instead, he crushed his
hat upon his head, strode to the door, jerked it open, and banged it
"Now, Simmonds," Godfrey repeated, as the echo died away, and
Simmonds came forward and signed. I witnessed the signatures, and
Godfrey, with more eagerness than he had shown in the whole affair,
caught up the paper and sprang with it to the door.
"Get that down to the office, as quick as you can," he said, to a man
outside. "I'll 'phone instructions. That," he added, closing the door
and turning back to us, "is my reward for all this--or, rather, the
_Record's_ reward. And now, gentlemen, Mr. Shearrow has his car
below, and I think we would better drive around to some safe-deposit
box with this plunder."
It was perhaps ten days afterwards that Godfrey dropped in to see me
one evening. I was just back from a week on Cape Cod, which had done
me a world of good; and, I need hardly say, was glad to see him.
"You're looking normal again," he said, surveying me, as he sat
down. "I was worried about you for a while."
"I never felt better. I told you that all I needed was to have that
"And it was solved on schedule time, wasn't it," he smiled; "though
not quite in the way I had anticipated. Do you know, Lester," he
added, "I am going to claim that cabinet."
"On what grounds?" I demanded.
"Because the man who owned it gave it to me," and he got a paper out
of his pocket-book and handed it across to me.
I opened it and recognised the delicate and feminine writing which I
had seen once before.
"_My dear sir_ [the letter ran]:
"I find that I made the mistake of underestimating you, and I
present you my sincere apologies. I trust that, at some future
time, it may be my privilege to be again engaged with you--the
result is certain to be most interesting. But at present I find
that I must return to Europe by _La Bretagne_; since, after the
trouble I have taken, it is impossible that I should consent to
part with the brilliants of His Highness the Grand Duke. As a
slight souvenir of my high regard, I trust you will be willing
to accept the cabinet Boule, which I am certain that good M.
Lester will surrender to you if you will show to him this letter.
The cabinet is not only interesting in itself, but will be doubly
so to you because of the part it has played in our little comedy.
And I should like to know that it adorns a corner of your home.
"Till we meet again, dear sir, believe me
"Your sincere admirer,
"He's a good sport, isn't he?" asked Godfrey, as I silently handed
the letter back to him. "What do you say about the cabinet?"
"I suppose there is no doubt that Crochard bought it," I said.
"So that it is mine now?"
"Yes; but I'm going to solicit a bribe."
"Go ahead and solicit it."
"I want a souvenir, too," I said. "I'd like awfully well to have that
letter--besides," I added, "it will be a kind of receipt, you know,
if anybody ever questions my giving you the cabinet."
Godfrey laughed and threw the letter across the table to me.
"It's yours," he said. "And I'll send for the cabinet to-morrow. I
suppose it is still at the station?"
"Yes; I haven't had time to put in a claim for it. But, Godfrey," I
added, "when did _La Bretagne_ sail?"
"A week ago to-day. She is due at Havre in the morning."
"Did you warn them?"
"Warn them of what?"
"That Crochard is after the diamonds. They went back on _La
Bretagne_, I suppose?"
"Yes--and Pigot went with them. So why should I warn any one? Surely
they know that Crochard will get those diamonds if he can. It has
become a sort of point of honour with him, I imagine. It is up to
them to take care of them."
"That oughtn't to be difficult," I said. "The strong-room of a liner
is about the safest place on earth."
"Yes," Godfrey agreed, and blew a meditative ring toward the ceiling.
And presently he went away without saying anything more.
But the more I thought of it, the more the inflection he had given
that word seemed an interrogation rather than an affirmation.
And when I opened my paper next morning, I more than half expected to
be greeted with a black headline announcing the looting of the
strong-room of _La Bretagne_. But there was no such headline, and
with a sigh, half of relief and half of disappointment, I turned to
the other news.
But two weeks later, a black headline _did_ catch my eye:
MICHAELOVITCH JEWELS FALSE!
FRENCH DETECTIVE TAKES BACK PASTE IMITATIONS FROM AMERICA.
Fraud Discovered When the Grand Duke Michael Sends them to a
Jeweller to be Reset.
I had no need to read the article which followed, for I saw in a
flash what had occurred. I saw, too, why Crochard had retained the
paste jewels--he had a use for them! How or where the substitution
had been made, I could only guess; but one thing was certain: the two
weeks which had elapsed before the theft was discovered had given him
ample opportunity to dispose of his plunder. I felt sorry for the
Grand Duke; sorrier still for that admirable M. Pigot; but, after
all, one could not but admire the cleverness of the man who had
Who, I wondered, had bought the Mazarin? Surely there was a diamond
most difficult to sell.
It could, of course, be cut up--- but that would be sacrilege!
That question was answered, before long, in an unexpected way--a way
which filled many columns in the papers, which delighted the
comedy-loving French, and which gave Crochard a unique advertisement.
One morning, in the personal column of _Le Matin_, appeared a notice,
of which this is the English:
"To M. the Director of the Museum of the Louvre:
"It has been my good fortune to come into possession of the
rose-diamond known as the Mazarin. It is my wish to restore it
to your collection, in order that it may no longer be necessary
to delude the public with an imitation of coloured glass. It will
give me great pleasure to present this brilliant to you, with my
compliments, provided His Highness, the Grand Duke Michael, who
preceded me in possession of the diamond, will join me in the gift.
Should he refuse, it will be my melancholy duty to cleave the
diamond into a number of smaller stones, as it is too large for
my use. But I hope that he will not refuse.
What could the Grand Duke do? To have refused, would have made him
the butt of the boulevards. Besides, he was, after all, losing
nothing which he had not already lost. So, with a better grace than
one might have expected, he consented to join in the restoration. Two
days later, the director of the Louvre discovered a packet upon his
desk. He opened it and found within the Mazarin. When you visit the
Louvre, you will see it in the place of honour in the glass case in
the centre of the Gallery of Apollo, with an attendant on guard
beside it. But already the circumstances of its restoration are
fading from the public memory.
And Crochard? I do not know. Each morning, I read first the news from
Paris, searching for L'Invincible in some new incarnation. I have his
letter framed and hanging above my desk, and every day I read it
over. One sentence, especially, is forever running in my head:
"I trust that, at some future time, it may be my privilege to be
again engaged with you--the result is certain to be most
And I trust that it may be my privilege, also, to be present at that