Fiction

The Pawns Count

A Story of the Great War

E. Phillips Oppenheim November 1 1917
Fiction

The Pawns Count

A Story of the Great War

E. Phillips Oppenheim November 1 1917

The Pawns Count

Fiction

A Story of the Great War

E. Phillips Oppenheim

Author of “Mr. Grex of Monte Carlo,” “The Double Traitor,” etc.

SYNOPSIS: Capt. Graham, an English officer, invents a new explosive of tremendous power and tells about it at a fashionable London restaurant in the hearing of a number of people, including John Lutchester, another Englishman; Pamela Van Teyl, an American girl; Oscar Fischer, a German-American, and Baron Sunyea, a Japanese. He mysteriously disappears. Pamela, believing he has been overpowered and is being kept in some part of the restaurant, obtains information from two employees with reference to a deserted chapel beside the restaurant. She secures the key to the chapel. In the meantime Graham awakens from a drugged stupor to find himself in the chapel confronted with Fischer, who demands the formula for the new explosive-

CHAPTER IV.;—Continued.

JOSEPH moistened his lips. He was still feeling sore and dizzy, but he began to see his way.

“You noticed, perhaps,” he said, “the American girl—the beautiful young lady with this guy’s friends? She was waiting with the others for Captain Graham to come down. I saw her go up the stairs. I saw her come down again, three minutes later.”

“Miss Van Teyl?” Fischer exclaimed, with a frown. “You’re mad, Joseph!” The negro laughed grimly.

“Am I!” he retorted. “I tell you this. Master Fischer. She was in Berlin where I was, and she was at the Embassy every day. She was asked to leave there. They put her over the frontier into Holland. I knew her when she came into the restaurant She’s no society young lady, she ain’t! Bet you she was on to the goods.”

Fischer hesitated for a moment The thoughts were chasing one another through his brain. Then he took up the receiver from the telephone instrument which stood upon the table.

“1560 Mayfair,” he asked in a low tone.

They all stood listening, grouped around Graham’s writhing figure.

“Hullo! Is that Claridge’s Hotel?” Fischer went on. “I am speaking from Ciro’s. Put me through, if you please, to Miss Van Teyl’s apartments.

What? Repeat that, will you?

Thank you.”

Fischer laid down the receiver. He turned towards the others. He was breathing a little quickly, and his eyes glittered behind his gold-rimmed spectacles.

“Miss Van Teyl,” he announced, “has left for Tilbury. She is going out on the Lapland this morning. My God, she’s got the formula !”

There was a moment’s silence. Joseph was standing by with a wicked look on his face.

“I saw her slip away,” he muttered, “and I watched her come down again. There was just time.”

FISCHER turned suddenly to where Graham was lying. He drew a sheet of writing paper from the rack upon the table, and a pencil from his pocket. There was an evil and concentrated significance in his tone.

“That formula,” he said, “can be written again. I think you had better write it.”

“I’ll see you damned first!” was the weak but prompt reply.

Fischer bent a little lower over the prostrate figure. “Look here,” he went on, “we don't run risks like this for nothing. You’re better dead than alive, so

far as we are concerned, any way. We’d planned to take the formula from you, and you can guess the rest. There are cellars underneath here into which no one ever goes who matters. Now here’s a chance of life for you. Write down that formula—truthfully, mind—and we’ll discuss the matter of taking your parole."

“See you damned first!” Graham repeated, his voice a little more tremulous but still convincing.

Fischer stood upright and turned to

“Get a bottle of brandy and a glass,” he ordered.

The man pushed open the trap-door and disappeared. He came back again in a few moments, with a bottle in one hand and a glass in the other. Fischer poured out some of the cordial and drew a small table up to Graham’s side.

“There,” he said, loosening the cord around his left wrist, “drink that, and think it over. We shall be gone for about ten minutes. If you change your mind before, ring that little hand-bell. If you have not changed your mind when we return, it will be the cellars.”

“Beasts!” Graham muttered.

Fischer shrugged his shoulders. For a moment he had straightened himself. His face had softened, but it was in tune with his thoughts.

“I would twist the necks of a million fools like you,” he said, “for the sake

of-”

He paused, leaving his sentence uncompleted, and beckoned to the other men. They followed him through the trap-door and down into the cellars below. The place was once more silent. Graham rolled from side to side, drew a long breath, and tugged vainly at his bonds. The effort overtaxed his strength. He seemed to feel the darkness closing in upon him, the rushing of the sea in his

CHAPTER V.

CO FAR as Sandy Graham was con^ cerned, his unconsciousness might have lasted an hour or a day. As a mat-

ter of fact, it was scarcely a minute after the disappearance of Fisher and his confederates when he was conscious of a rush of cold air in the place, and beheld the vision of a tiny flash of light at the lower end of the gloomy building. Immediately afterwards he heard the soft closing of a door and beheld a tall, shadowy figure slowly approaching. He lay quite still and looked at it, and his heart began to beat with hope. One of the lights had been left burning, and there was something in the bearing and attitude of the man who finally came to a standstill by his side, which was entirely reassuring.

“Lutchester!” he faltered. “My God, how did you get here?”

“Offices of a young lady,” Lutchester observed, producing a knife from his pocket. “Allow me!”

He cut the cords which still secured Graham’s limbs. Then he looked around

“How did they bring you here?” he whispered. “I suppose there is a passage from the restaurant?”

“Up through a trap-door there,” Graham explained, pointing.

Lutchester stood over it and listened intently. Then he turned around, lifted the glass of brandy from the table, smelt it approvingly and tasted it.

“Excellent!” he pronounced. “The 1840. Allow me!”

He refilled the glass and handed it to Sandy, who gulped down the contents. The effect was almost instantaneous. In less than a minute he had staggered to his feet.

“Feel strong enough to walk about fifty yards?" Lutchester inquired.

“I’d walk to hell to get out of this place!” was the prompt reply.

Lutchester took his arm, and they passed down the dusty aisle between the worm-eaten and decaying benches and through the outside door, which Lutchester closed and locked behind them. The rush of cold air was like new life to Graham.

“I can walk all right now,” he muttured. “My God, we’U give these fellows hell for this!”

They made their very difficult way across a plot of ground from which a row of dilapidated cottages had been razed to the ground. The fog still hung around them and seemed to bring with it a curious silence, although the dying traffic from one of the main thoroughfares reached them in muffled notes. Lutchester climbed to the top of a pile of rubbish and then, turning around, held out his

“Up here,” he directed.

Graham struggled up until he stood by his companion’s side. The latter stood quite still, listening for a moment. Then he climbed a little higher and swung around, holding out his hand once more.

“I’m on the top of the wall,” he said. “Come on.”

Graham’s knees were shaking, but with Lutchester’s help he staggered up and reached his side. On the pavement below a man in chauffeur’s livery was standing, holding out his hands, and by the side of the curbstone a closed car was waiting. Somehow or other the two reached the pavement. Lutchester almost pushed his companion into the limousine and stepped in after him. The chauffeur sprang to his seat and the car glided off. Graham just realized that there was a woman by his side whose face was vaguely familiar. Then the waves broke in upon his ears once more.

“I was right, then, it seems,” Pamela observed approvingly. “You were just the man for this little affair.”

Lutchester sighed. 9 "Unfortunately,” he confessed, “a messenger boy would have been as effective. I stumbled over to the chapel—rubber shoes, you observe,” he remarked, pointing downwards—“and soon discovered that blinds had been let down all around and that there were people inside. There was just a faint chink in one, and I caught a glimpse of several men, your friend Oscar amongst them. Having’” he went on, “an immense regard for my personal safety, I was hesitating what means to adopt when the lights were lowered, and it seemed to me that the men were disappearing.”

“Do go on,” Pamela murmured. “This is most exciting.”

“In a sense it was disappointing,” Lutchester complained. “I had pictured for myself a dramatic entrance ... a quiet turning of the key, a soft approach—owing to my shoes,” he reminded her—“a cough, perhaps, or a breath . . discovery, me with a revolver in my hand pointed to the arch-villain—*if you stir you’re a dead man!’ . . . Natural collapse of the villain. With my left hand I slash the bonds which hold Graham, with my right I cover the miscreants. One of them, perhaps, might creep behind me, and I hesitate. If I move my revolver the other two will get the drop on me—1 think that is the correct expression? A wonderful moment, that, Miss Van Teyl!” “But it didn’t happen,” she protested. “Ah! I forgot that,” he acknowledged. "Still, I was prepared. I had the revolver all right. But as you say, it didn’t happen. I made my way to the chapel door, let myself in, found our friend lying in a half-comatose state upon one of the blue plush Henry sofas, in the shadow of a horrible deal pulpit, I gathered that he had been left there to reflect upon his sins. There was a bottle of remarkably fine brandy within reach, which I tested, and with which I dosed our friend here. I then cut away his bonds, arm in arm we walked down the aisle, I locked up the place, threw the key away, kicked my shins half-a-dozen times crossing that disgusting little plot of land, climbed boldly to the top of the wall, and behold!” Pamela smiled upon him in congratulatory fashion.

“On the whole,” she said, “I am quite glad that I telephoned to you.”

“You showed a sound discretion," he admitted.

“If he had not been lame,” she con-

fessed,” I should have sent to Captain Holderness.”

“That would have been a great mistake,” Lutchester assured her. “Holderness is a good fellow but devoid of imagination. He is great on constituted authority. He would have probably marched up with a squad of heavyfooted policemen—and found nothing.”

“Yet I must confess,” Pamela persisted, with a frankness unaccountable even to herself, “that if I could have thought of anyone else I should never have telephoned to you.”

“And why not?”

“Because I should not have classified you as being of the adventurous type,” she declared.

Lutchester looked injured.

“After all,” he protested, “that is not my fault. That is due to your singular lack of perception. However, I am able

to return the compliment. I, for my part, should have thought that you were much more interested in the fashions than in paying exceedingly rash visits to degenerate orientals and negroes.”

“Perhaps, some day,” she remarked, “we may understand one another better.”

He met her gaze with a certain seriousness.

“I hope that we may,” he said.

For some reason they were both silent for a moment. Her tone had changed a little when she spoke again.

“You are sure,” she asked, “that you do not mind my leaving the rest of this affair in your'hands? There are reasons, which I cannot tell you of just now, which make me anxious not to appear in it at all.”

“I accept the charge as a privilege,” he assented. “We are within a few yards of my rooms now. I promise you that I will look after Captain Graham and advise him as to the course for him to pursue.”

The car came to a standstill.

“This then,” she said, holding out her hand, “will be good-bye for the present.”

He held her fingers for a moment without reply. Quite suddenly she decided that she liked him. Then he lifted Graham, who was half asleep, half unconscious, to his feet, and assisted him from the car.

“Where shall I tell the man to go to?” he inquired.

“He knows,” she answered with sudden taciturnity.

“Wherever it may be, then,” he replied, “bon voyage!"

CHAPTER VI.

IT was about half-an-hour later when Sandy Graham opened his eyes and began to feel the life once more warm in

his veins. He was seated in the most comfortable easy-chair of John Lutchester’s bachelor sitting-room. By his side was a coffee equippage and a decanter of brandy. His head still throbbed and his bones ached, but his mind was beginning to grow clearer. Lutchester, who had been seated at the writing-table, swung round in his chair at the sound of his guest’s movement.—

"Feeling better, eh?” he asked.

“I am all right now,” was the somewhat shaky reply. “Got a head like a turnip and a tongue like a lime-kiln, but I’m beginning—to feel myself.”

“How’s your memory?”

“Hazy. Let me see. . . . My God, I’ve been robbed, haven’t I?”

“So I imagine,” Lutchester replied. “You rather asked for it, didn’t you?” Graham moved uneasily in his place. He had suddenly the feeling of being

back at school—and in the presence of the headmaster.

“I suppose I did in a way,” he admitted, “but at Henry’s—why, I’ve always looked upon the place as a club more than anything else.”

“I am afraid that I can’t agree with you there,” Lutchester observed. “I should consider Henry’s a remarkably cosmopolitan restaurant, where a man in your position should exercise more than even ordinary restraint.”

"I suppose I was w-rong,” Graham muttered, “but I had been working for about ten hours on end, and then rushed up to London in the car to try and keep my appointment with Holderness.”

“Stop anywhere on the way?”

“We had a few drinks,” Graham confessed. “I was so done up. Perhaps I had more than I meant to. However, it’s no use bothering about that now. I’ve been robbed, and that’s all there is about it. Could we get on to Scotland Yard from here?”

“We could, but I don’t think we will, Lutchester replied.

Graham was puzzled.

“Why not?” he demanded. “That formula was the most wonderful thing that has ever been put together, and the whole thing’s so simple. I’ve been afraid every second that someone else might stumble upon it.” „

"It is without doubt a great loss, Lutchester admitted. “All the same, I don’t fancy that it’s a Scotland Yard business exactly. Have you any idea who robbed you?”

Graham paused to think. His eyes were still troubled and uncertain.

“It’s coming back to me,” he muttered. “I remember that beastly barn of a chapel. There were Jules, and that musician fellow, and the big American. He emptied my pockets. . • • Why, of

course, I remember how angry he was.

. My pocket-book was gone! They left me alone to write out the formula again, and then you came. . . . How

on earth did you tumble on to my being

iere, Lutchester?”

“It was Miss Pamela Van Teyl whom ou must thank,” Lutchester told him, not me. It seems she knew more about lenry’s than any of us. She’d come up gainst some of the crew in Berlin, and he guessed thev were holding you for sat formula. She got the key out of one f those men and then telephoned to me or my help.” ......

ham murmured weakly.

THERE was a moment’s silence. The recovering man’s consciousness of his position and of events was evidently as yet incomplete. He sat up suddenly in his chair, gripping the sides of it. His eyes were large with reminiscent trouble.

“My pocket-book had gone when they searched me,” he muttered. ^

“Are you sure that you had it with you when you came into Henry’s?” Lutchester inquired.

“Absolutely certain.

“Do you t¿ink you can remember now what happened when you went upstairs .

“I reached the lavatory all right—you were with me then, weren’t you? Graham said reflectively. “I hung up my coat while I washed, but there was no one else in the room. Then you went downstairs and I brushed my hair and just stopped to light a cigarette. You know that on the right-hand side of the landing there is a room where the musicians change. Joseph, that black devil, was standing in the doorway. He grinned as I came into sight. ‘Lady wants to speak to you for a moment, Captain Graham,’ he said. Well, you know how harmless the fellow looks —• just a good-natured, smiling nigger. I never dreamed of anything wrong. As a matter of fact, I thought that Peggy Vincent—that’s a young lady I often go to Henry’s with— wanted to have a word with me before I joined our party. I stepped inside the room, and that’s just about all I can remember. It must have been jolly quick. His arm shot round my neck, the door was closed, and that other brute—Hassan, I think it was—held something over my

“But the room was searched,” Lutchester reminded him.

“When I came to just a little,” Graham explained, “I found that I was in a sort of cupboard place, behind the lockers these fellows have for their clothes. It opens with a spring lock, and you’d never notice it, searching the room.”

“Who was the first person you saw when you recovered consciousness?"

Graham’s forehead was wrinkled in the effort to remember.

“I can’t quite get hold of it,” he confessed, “but I have a sort of fancy I can’t altogether get rid of that there was a woman about.”

Lutchester looked at the end of the cigarette he had just lit

“A woman?" he repeated. “That’s

“I can't remember anything definitely until I woke up in that chapel,” Graham continued, “but when they searched me and found that the pocket-book had gone, Fischer, the big American, muttered some woman’s name. I was queer just at the moment, but it sounded very much to me like Miss Van Teyl’s. He rang her up on the telephone.”

“Did they suspect Miss Van Teyl, then, of having taken your pocket-book?”

Graham shook his head.

“I lost the drift of things just then,” he admitted. “She couldn’t have done, in any case. Forgive me, but aren’t we wasting time, Mr. Lutchester? We must do something. Couldn’t you ring up Scotland Yard now?”

“I certainly could," Lutchester assented, “but, as I told you just now, I don’t think that I will.”

Graham stared at him.

“But why not?”

“For certain very definite reasons with which you needn’t trouble yourself just now,” Lutchester pronounced. “The formula has gone, without a doubt, but it certainly isn’t in the hands of any of the people at Henry’s.”

“But there’s that American fellow—• Fischer!” Graham exclaimed. “He was the ringleader!”

“Just so,” Lutchester murmured thoughtfully. "However, he hasn’t got the formula.”

“But he planned the attack upon me,” Graham protested. “He is an enemy—a German — sheltering himsmf under his American naturalization. Surely we’re going for him?”

"He’s a wrong ’un, of course,” Lutchester admitted, “but he hasn’t got the formula.”

“But we must do something!” Graham continued, his anger rising as his strength

anger.

returned. “Why, the place is a perfect den of conspirators! I expect Ferrani himself is in it, and there’s that other maître d’hotel, Jules, and those black beasts, Joseph and Hassan, besides Fischer. My God, they shall pay for his!” Lutchester nodded.

“I dare say they will,” he admitted, “but not quite in the way you are think-

Graham half rose to his feet.

“Look here,” he said, “I’m sane enough now, aren’t I, and in my proper senses? You are not going to suggest that we don’t turn the police on to that damned

"I certainly am,” was the brief reply. Graham was aghast.

“What do you mean to do, then?” “Leave them alone for the present. Not one of them has the formula. Not one of them even knows where it is.”

“But the attack upon me?”

“You asked for all you got,” Lutchester told him curtly, “and perhaps a little

The first tinge of color came back to Graham’s cheeks. His eyes flashed with

“Perhaps I did,” he admitted, “but that doesn’t alter the fact that I’m going to have some of my own back out of them.”

LUTCHESTER crossed his legs and turned round in his chair. For the first time he directly faced his visitor. His tone, though not unkindly, was impera-

“Young fellow,” he said, “you’ll have to listen to me about this.”

A smouldering sense of revolt suddenly found words.

“Listen to you? What the devil have you got to do with it?” Graham demanded.

“I hate to remind anyone of an obligation,” Lutchester answered, “but I am under the impression that, together with Miss Van Teyl, of course, I rescued you from an exceedingly inconvenient situa-

“I haven’t had time yet to tell you how grateful I am,” Graham said awkwardly. "You were a brick, of course, and how you and Miss Van Teyl tumbled on to the whole thing I can’t imagine. But I don’t understand what you’re getting at now. You can’t suggest that I am to leave these fellows alone and not give information to the police?”

“The character of the place,” Lutchester assured him, “is already perfectly well known to the heads of the police. The matter will be dealt with, but not in the way you suggest. And so far as regards Fischer, I do not wish him interfered with for the present.”

“You do not wish him interfered with?” Graham repeated. “Where the devil do you come in at all?”

“You can leave me out of the matter for the present. You want the formula back, don’t you?”

“My God, yes!” Graham muttered fervently. “It’s all very well to give one a pencil and a piece of paper and say ‘Write it out,’ but there are calculations and proportions-—”

“Precisely,” Lutchester interrupted. “You want it back again. Why not let Fischer do the business? He has an idea where it’s gone. The thing to do seems to me to follow him.”

“To follow Fischer?” Graham repeated vaguely.

“Precisely. If he thinks the formula is in England, Fischer will stay in England. And if he thinks that it has gone abroad he will go abroad. If we leave him free we can watch which he does.”

Graham swallowed half a wineglassful of the brandy by his side. Then he leaned forward.

“Look here,” he said, “you’ll forgive me if I repeat myself and ask you once again —what the hell has all this got to do with you?”

“Just this much,” Lutchester replied, “that I insist upon your taking the course of action in this matter which I propose.”

“You mean,” Graham protested, working himself gradually into a state of wrath, “that I am to go back to my rooms as though nothing had happened, see Holderness and the others to-morrow, and not have a word of explanation to offer? That I am to leave those blackguards at Henry’s to try their dirty games on some one else, and let Fischer, the man who was fully inclined to become my murderer, go away unharmed? I think not, Mr. Lutchester. I am much obliged for your help, but you are talking piffle.”

“What do you propose to do, then?”

“I am going round to Scotland Yard myself.”

Lutchester rose to his feet.

“Stay where you are for a minute, please,” he begged.

He passed into a smaller room, and Graham could hear faintly the sound of the telephone. In a minute or two his host returned.

“Go in there ana speak, Graham,” he invited. “You will find some one you know at the other end.”

/GRAHAM did as he was bidden, and NJ Lutchester closed the door after him. For a few minutes the latter sat in his chair, smoking quietly, his eyes fixed upon the fire. Then his unwilling guest reappeared. He came into the room a little unsteadily and looked with new eyes at the man who seemed so unaccountably to have taken over the control of his affairs.

“I don’t understand all this,” he muttered. “Who the devil are you, any way, Lutchester?”

“A very ordinary person, I can assure you,” was the quiet reply. “However, you are satisfied, I suppose, that my advice is good?”

“Yes, I am satisfied,” Graham answered nervously. “You know that—that I’m under arrest?”

Lutchester nodded.

“Well, you’re not asking for my sympathy, I suppose?” he observed drily.

The young man flushed.

“I know that I behaved like a fool,” he admitted. “All the same, I’ve been working night and day for weeks on this problem. I haven’t even been up to town once. I must say I think they seem inclined to be a little hard on me.”

“No one is going to be in the least hard on you,” Lutchester assured him. “You have committed a frightful indiscretion, and all that is asked of you now is to keep your mouth shut. If you do that, I think a way will be found for you out of your troubles.”

“But what is to become of me?" Graham demanded.

“I understand that you are to be taken to Northumberland to-morrow,” Lutchester informed l>im. "There you will be

Continued on page 75

Continued from page 42.

allowed every facility for fresh experiments. In the meantime, I have promised to give you a shake-down here for the night. You will find a soldier on guard outside your door, but you can treat him as your servant”

“You are very kind,” Graham faltered, a little vaguely. “If only I could under-

Lutchester rose to his feet. His manner became more serious, his tone had in it a note of finality.

“Captain Graham," he interrupted, “don’t try to understand. I will tell you as much as this, if it helps you. Henry’s Restaurant will be placed under the closest surveillance, but we wish nothing disturbed there at the moment until we have discovered the future plans of Mr. Oscar Fischer.”

“The big German-American,” Graham muttered. “He’s the man you ought to get hold of.”

“Some day I hope that we may,” Lutchester declared. “For the moment, however, we want him undisturbed. You would scarcely believe it, perhaps, if I told you that the theft of your formula is only a slight thing compared to the bigger business that man has on hand. There is something else at the back of his head which it is worth heaven and earth to us to understand. We want the formula and we shall have it, but more than anything else in the world we want to know w’hy Fischer has pledged his word in Berlin to bring this war to an end within three months. We have to find that out, and we are going to find it out—from him. You see, I have treated you with confidence, Captain Graham. Now let me show you to your room.” Graham put his hand to his forehead.

“I feel as though this were some sort of nightmare,” he muttered. “I’ve known you for several months, Mr. Lutchester, and I have never heard you say a serious word. You dance at Henry’s; you made a good soldier, they said, but you’d had enough of it in twelve months; you play auction bridge in the afternoons; and you talk about the war as though it were simply an irritating circumstance. And to-night-”

Lutchester threw open the door of his own bedroom and pointed to the bathroom beyond.

“My man has put out everything he thinks you may want,” he said. “Try and get a good night’s sleep. And, Graham!"

“Yes?”

“Don’t bother your head about me, and don’t ask any more questions.”

CHAPTER VII.

HP HE Lapland was two days out from Tilbury before Pamela appeared on deck, followed by her maid with an armful of cushions, and the deck steward with her rugs. She had scarcely made herself comfortable in a sunny corner when she was aware of the approach of a large, familiar figure. Her astonishment was entirely genuine.

“Mr. Fischer!” she exclaimed. “Why, how on earth did you catch this steamer? I thought you were coming on the Thursday boat?”

“Some inducement to change my mind,”

Mr. Fischer replied, drawing a chair up to her side.

“Meaning me?”

“I guess that’s so!”

“Of course, I’m exceedingly flattered,” Pamela observed, “or rather I should be if I believed you, but I don’t see how you could leave a supper-party at Henry’s and go straight to Tilbury.”

“Say, how did you know I was supping at Henry’s?” he inquired.

“Because I was there for luncheon myself, as you know,” she answered carelessly, “and I heard you order your table for supper.”

Mr. Fischer nodded reminiscently.

“I always wind up with a little supper at Henry’s on my last night in London,” he remarked. “It left me two hours to get down to Tilbury, but it don’t take me long to start for anywhere when I once make up my mind. That’s the American of it, I suppose. Besides, I never need much in the way of luggage. I keep clothes over on the other side and clothes in New York, and a grip always ready packed for a journey.”

“You’re so typical,” she murmured, smiling.

“I don’t know about that,” he replied. “My business makes it necessary for me to be always on the go. Have you heard from your brother lately?”

Pamela shook her head.

“Jimmy is the most terrible correspondent,” she complained. “I don’t think I’ve had any mail from him for two months.” “You didn’t know that he and I were sharing rooms together, then, in the Plaza Hotel, I suppose?”

Pamela turned her head a little and gazed at her companion in genuine surprise.

“Sharing rooms in the Plaza Hotel?” she repeated. . . . “You and Jimmy?” “I guess that’s so,” Mr. Fischer assented. “We were doing business together one day, and the subject cropped up somehow or other. Your brother was thinking of making a move, and I’d just been shown these rooms, which were a trifle on the large side for me. I made him an offer, and he jumped at it.”

“I hope you’re not leading James into extravagant ways,” she remarked anxiously. “I loved his little apartment in Forty-Second Street, and it was so inexpensive.”

“Your brother’s share of these rooms isn’t anything more than he can afford,” Mr. Fischer assured her. “That I can promise you. I guess his firm is doing well just now. If they’ve many more clients like me they are.”

“It is very nice of you to put business in his way,” Pamela said thoughtfully. “I wonder why you do it, Mr. Fischer?” “Why shouldn’t I?”

“Well,” Pamela went on, her eyes travelling out seaward for a moment, “you seem to be one of those sort of men, Mr. Fischer, who never do anything without an object.”

“Some powers of observation,” he admitted blithely.

“You have an object in being kind to Jimmy, then?”

Mr. Fischer produced a cigar case and selected a cheroot.

“Mind my smoking?”

“Not in the least. The only time I mind things is when people don't answer my questions.”

“I was only kind of hesitating,” Mr. Fischer went on, leaning back once more in his chair. “You want the truth, don’t

“I never think anything else is worth

“In the first place, then,” her compan! ion began, “your brother belongs to what ; I suppose is known as the exclusive set j in New York. I am a Westerner with i few friends there. Through him I have J obtained introductions to several people ! whom it was interesting to me, from a j business point of view, to know.”

“I see,” Pamela murmured. “You are i at least frank, Mr. Fischer.”

"I am going to be more frank still,” he promised her. “Then another reason, of i course, was because I liked him, and a I third, which I am not sure wasn't the ' chief of all, because he was your brother.” Pamela laughed gaily.

“Is that necessary?”

“Necessary or not, it’s the truth,” he ; assured her. “I am a man of quick im! pressions and lasting ones.”

“But we’ve never met except on a * steamer,” Pamela reminded him.

“I know it’s the fashion,” Mr. Fischer said, “to turn up one’s nose at steamer acquaintances. It isn’t like that with ! me. You see, I don’t have as much opportunity of meeting folk as some others, perhaps. The most interesting people I’ve known socially I’ve met on steamers. I I sat at your table, side by side with you, ! Miss Van Teyl, for seven days a few months ago. I guess I’ll remember those seven days as long as I live.”

PAMELA turned her head and looked at him. The faintly derisive smile died away from her lips. The man was ! in earnest. A certain curiosity stole into her eyes as the seconds passed. She j studied his hard, strong face, with its great jaw and prominent forehead; the mouth, a little too full, and belieing the i rest of his physiognomy, yet with its own j peculiar strength. He had taken off his ! spectacles, and it seemed to her that the I cold, flinty light of his eyes had caught I for a moment some touch of the softer ! blue of the sea or the sky. Seated, he lost , some of the awkwardness of his too great and ill-carried height It seemed to her ' that he was at least a person to be recki oned with, either in friendship or enmity.

“Are you an American bom, Mr.

! Fischer?” she asked him.

He shook his head.

“I was born at Offenbach,” he told her,

! “near Frankfurt My father brought me J out to America when I was eleven years old.”

“You must find the present condition ! of things a little trying for you,” she observed.

Oscar Fischer put on his glasses again. He did not answer for several moments.

“That opens up a subject., Miss Van Teyl,” he said, “which some day I should like to discuss with you.”

“Why not now?” she invited. “I feel much more inclined for conversation than reading.”

“Tell me, then, to begin with,” he asked thoughtfuliy, “on which side are your sympathies?”

“I try to do my duty as an American citizen,” she replied promptly, “and that is to have no sympathies. Our dear country has set the world an example of what neutrality should be. I think it is the duty of us Americans to try end bring ourselves into exactly the same line of feeling.”

He changed his position a little uneasily. His attitude became less of a

sprawl. His eyes were fixed upon her

“I fear,” he said, “that we are going to begin by a disagreement. I do not consider that America has realized in the least the duties of a neutral nation.”

“You must explain that at once, if you please, before we go any further,” Pamela insisted.

“Is this neutrality?” Fischer demanded, his rather harsh voice almost raucous now with a touch of real feeling. “America ships daily millions of dollars’ worth of those things that make war possible, to France, to Italy, above all to England. She keeps them supplied with ammunition, clothing, scientific instruments, food —a dozen things which make war easier. To Germany she sends nothing. Is that neutrality?”

“But America is perfectly willing to deal in the same way with Germany,” Pamela pointed out. “German agents can come and place their orders and take away whatever they want. The market is as much open to her as to the Allies.”

Fischer was sitting bolt upright in his chair now. There was a little spot of color in his cheeks and his eyes flashed behind his spectacles. He struck the side of the chair. He was very angry.

“That is Jesuitical,” he declared. “It is perfectly well-known that Germany is not in a position to fetch munitions from America. Therefore, I say that there is no neutrality in supplying one side in the war with goods which the other side is unable to procure.”

“Then you place the onus upon America of Germany’s naval inferiority,” Pamela remarked drily.

“Germany’s maritime inferiority does not exist,” Mr. Fischer protested. “When the moment arrives that the High Seas Fleet comes out for action the world will know the truth.”

“Then hadn’t it better come,” Pamela suggested, “and clear the ocean for your commerce?”

“That isn’t the point,” Fischer insisted. “We have wandered from the main issue. I say that America abandons its neutrality when it helps the Allies to continue the war.”

“I don’t think you will find,” Pamela replied, “that international law prevents any neutral country from supplying either combatant with munitions. If one country can fetch the things and the other can’t, that is the misfortune of the country that can’t. For one moment look at the matter from England’s point of view. She has built up a mighty navy to keep the seas clear for exactly this purpose—to continue her commerce from abroad. Germany instead has built up a mighty army, with which she has overrun Europe. Germany has had the advantage from her army. Whv shouldn’t England have the advantage from her navy?”

“Let me ask you the question you asked me a few minutes ago,” her companion begged. “Were you born in America—or England?”

“I was born in America,” Pamela told him; “so were my parents and my grandparents. I claim to be American to the backbone. I claim even to treat any sympathies I might have in this affair as prejudices, and not even to allow them a single corner in my brain.”

Mr. Fischer sat quite still for several moments. He was struggling very hard to keep his temper. In the end he succeeded.

“We will not, then, pursue the subject

of America’s neutrality,” he said, “because it is obvious that we disagree fundamentally. But tell me this, now. as an American and a patriot. Which do you think would be better for America—that Germany and Austria won this war, or the Allies?"

"Upon that question I have not altogether made up my mind,” Pamela confessed.

“Then there is room there for a discussion,” Mr. Fischer pointed out eagerly. “I should like to put my views before you on this matter.”

“And I should love to hear them,” Pamela replied, “but I feel just now as though we had talked enough politics. Do you know that I came up on deck in a state of great agitation?”

“Submarine alarms from the stewardess?” Mr. Fischer suggested.

“I am not afraid of submarines, but I have a most profound dislike for thieves,” Pamela declared.

"You have not had anything stolen?” he asked quickly.

“I have not,” Pamela replied, “but the only reason seems to be that I have nothing worth stealing. When I got back from luncheon this afternoon I found that my stateroom^iad been systematically searched.”

SHE turned her head a little lazily and looked at her neighbor. His expression was entirely sympathetic.

“Your jewellery?”

“Deposited with the purser.”

“I congratulate you,” he said.

“Nothing has been stolen,” she observed, “but one hates the feeling of insecurity, all the same. Both my steward and stewardess are old friends. It must have been a very clever person who found his way into my room.”

“A very clever person,” Mr. Fischer objected, "would have known that you had deposited your jewels with the purser.”

“If it was my jewels of which they were in search,” Pamela murmured. “By the bye, do you remember all that fuss about the disappearance of a young soldier that morning at Henry’s?”

Fischer nodded.

“I heard something about it,” he confessed. “They were talking about it at dinner-time.”

“I had an idea that you might be interested,” Pamela went on. “He was rather a foolish young man. He came into the restaurant telling everyone at the top of his voice that he had made a great discovery! Even in London, which is, I should think, the most prosaic city in the world, there must be people who’are on the look out to pick up war secrets.” “Even in London, as you remark,” Fischer assented.

“You didn’t hear the end of the affair, I suppose?” she asked him.

The steward had arrived with afternoon tea. Fischer threw into the sea the cigar which he had been smoking.

“I do not think,” he said, “that the end has been reached yet.”

Pamela sighed.

“Les oreilles ennemiesƒ” she quoted. “I suppose one has to be careful everywhere.”

CHAPTER VIII.

IT was one evening towards the end of the voyage, and about an hour after dinner. A huge form loomed out of the darkness, continuing its steady promen-

ade along the unlit portion of the deck.. Pamela, moved by some caprice, abandoned her caution of the last few days and called out.

“Mr. Fischer!”

He stopped short. The sparks flew from the red end of his cigar, which he tossed into the sea. He hastened towards her.

“Miss Van Teyl?” he replied, a little hesitatingly.

“How clever of you to know my voice!” she observed. “I am in the humor to talk. Will you sit down, please?”

Mr. Fischer humbly drew a chair to her

“I had an idea,” he said, “that you had been avoiding me the last two or three

“I have,” she admitted.

“Have I offended you, then?”

“Scarcely that,” she replied, “only, you see, it seemed waste of time to talk to you with the foils on, and a little dangerous, perhaps, to talk to you with them off.”

His face reflected his admiration. “Miss Van Teyl,” he declared, “you are quite a wonderful person. I have never believed very much in women before. Perhaps that is the reason why I have never married.”

“Dear me, are you a woman-hater?”

she asked.

He looked at her steadfastly.

“I have made use of women as playthings,” he confessed. “Until I met you I never thought of them as companions, as partners.”

She laughed at him through the darkness, and at the sound of her laugh his eyes glowed.

“Really, I am very much flattered,” she said. “You give me credit for intelligence, then?”

“I give you credit for every gift a woman should have,” he answered enthusiastically. “I recognize in you the woman 1 have sometimes dreamed of.”

Again she laughed.

“Don’t tell me, Mr. Fischer,” she protested, “that ever in your practical life you have spent a single moment in

dreams?”

“I have spent many," he assured her, “hut they have all been since I knew you.” Pamela sighed.

“I have never been through a voyage,” she observed, “without a love affair. Still, I never suspected you, Mr. Fischer.” “You suspected me, perhaps, of other things.”

She nodded.

“I am full of suspicions about you,” she admitted. “I am not going to tell you what they are, of course.”

“There is one thing of which I am guilty,” he confessed. “I should like to tell you about it right now.”

“Could I guess it?”

“You’re clever enough.”

“You like me, don’t you, Mr. Fischer?” “Better than any woman in the world,” he answered promptly. “And my confession is—well, just that. Will you marry me?”

Pamela shook her head.”

“Quite early in life,” she confided, “I made up my mind that I would never give a definite answer to any one who proposed to me on a steamer. I suppose it’s the wind, or is it the stais, or rhe silence, or what? I have known the sanest of :nen, even like you, Mr Fischer, become quite maudlin.”

“I am brimful of common-sense at the present moment,” he declared earnestly.

“You and I could do great things together, if only I could get you to look at one certain matter frofn my point of view; to see it as I see it.”

“A political matter?” she inquired

naively.

“I want to try and persuade you,” he confessed, “that America has everything in the world to gain from Germany’s success, and everything to lose if the Allies should triumph in this war and Great Britain should continue her tyranny of the seas.”

“It’s an extraordinarily interesting subject,” Pamela admitted.

“It is almost as absorbing,” he declared, “as the other matter which just now lies even nearer to my heart.”

She withdrew her fingers from his sudden clutch.

“Mr. Fischer,” she told him, “what I said just now was quite final. I will not be made love to on a steamer.”

“When we land,” he continued eagerly, “you will be coming to see your brother, won’t you?”

She nodded.

“Of course! I am coming to the Plaza ! Hotel. That, I suppose, is good news for j you, Mr. Fischer.”

“Of course it is,” he answered, “but why do you say so?”

“It will give you so many opportunities,” she murmured.

“Of seeing you?”

She shook her head.

“Of searching my belongings.”

THERE was a moment’s silence. She heard his quick breath through the darkness. His voice assumed its harsher

“You believe that it was I who searched your state-room?”

“I am sure that it was you, or someone acting for you.”

“What is it, then, of which I am in search?” he demanded.

“Captain Graham’s formula,” she replied. “I think you want that a good deal more than you want me.”

“You have it, then?” he asked fiercely. She sighed.

“You jump so to conclusions. I didn’t say so.”

“You went up the stairs . . . you

were the only person who went up just at that one psychological moment! He had his pocket-book with him when he came in —he told Holderness so.”

“And when you searched him it was gone,” she remarked calmly. “Dear me!” “How do you know that I searched him?” Fischer demanded.

“How dare you ask me to give away my secrets?” she replied.

“Listen,” he began, striving with an almost painful effort to keep his voice down to the level of a whisper, “you and I together, we could do the most marvellous things. I could let you into all my schemes. They are great. They will be

successful. After the war is over-”

He held his breath for a moment. The tramp of approaching footsteps warned him of the coming of an intruder. The Captain came to a standstill before their chairs and saluted.

“Miss Van Teyl,” he said, “there will be a mutiny in the saloon if you don’t come down and sing.”

She almost sprang to her feet. The ship was rolling a little and she laid her fingers upon his arm.

“I meant to come long ago,” she declared, “but Mr. Fischer has been so interesting. You will finish telling me your

experiences another time, won’t you?” she called out over her shoulder. “There is so much that 1 still want to hear.-”

Fischer’s reply was almost ungracious. He watched their departure in silence, and afterwards leaned further back in his chair. With long, nervous fingers he drew, a black cigar from his case and lit it. then he folded his arms. For more than half-an-hour he sat there, motionless, smoking furiously. He looked out into the chaos of the windy darkness, he heard voices riding upon the seas, shrieking and calling to him, voices to which he had been deaf too long. The burden of these later years of turbulent brazen, selfish struggling, rolled back. He had been a sentimentalist once, a willing seeker after things which seemed to have passed him by. At his age, he told himself, a man should still find more than one place in the world.

CHAPTER IX.

JAMES VAN TEYL glanced curiously at the small, dark, figure standing patiently before him, and then back again at the wireless cable which he held in his fingers. He was just back from a tiring day in Wall Street, and was reclining in the most comfortable easy-chair of his Hotel Plaza sitting-room.

“Gee!” he murmured. “This beats me. The last thing I should have thought we wanted here was a valet. The fellow who looks after this suite has scarcely anything else to do. What did you say your name was?”

“Nikasti, sir."

Van Teyl carefully reconsidered the cable. It certainly seemed to leave no room for misunderstanding.

"Please engage for our service, as valet, Nikasti. See that he enters on his duties at once. Hope land this evening. Your sister on board sends love.—F.”

To be Continued.