The Wrath to Come

Cornelius Blunn at last discovers how Cleo learned Itash's amazing secret, which threatened to rock the world.

E. PHILLIPS OPPENHEIM May 1 1924

The Wrath to Come

Cornelius Blunn at last discovers how Cleo learned Itash's amazing secret, which threatened to rock the world.

E. PHILLIPS OPPENHEIM May 1 1924

The Wrath to Come

Cornelius Blunn at last discovers how Cleo learned Itash's amazing secret, which threatened to rock the world.

E. PHILLIPS OPPENHEIM

THE next morning they passed Gibraltar soon after noon and headed for the Straits. At one o’clock, Grant, who had spent the morning on the bridge, descended and walked down the deck. The chair in Gertrude’s accustomed place was empty. Brookes came out from the little smoke-room with a single cocktail upon a tray.

“Where is Madam?” Grant enquired.

“Her Highness sent word that she would remain in •her rooms to-day,” Brookes answered. “She begged that you would not disturb yourself on her account. She is simply a little tired.”

CHAPTER XXIII.

Grant frowned. He was most unexpectedly disappointed.

“Who is looking after the Princess?” he asked.

“I thought of doing so myself, if you have no objection, sir,” the man replied. “If you can manage with Jackson in the saloon, sir, it would perhaps be better.”

Grant nodded and went to his solitary luncheon. It was certainly to some extent, a relief to be spared the haunting question of her eyes, to be made to feel all the •time that in some way or another, he was unintentionally avenging himself for the great slight of his life. Yet •the solitude oppressed him. He ate without his usual appetite, and even forgot his whiskey and soda until the meal was over. He spent the afternoon engaged upon some work. At six o’clock he sent her a little note:

“My dear Gertrude," he wrote,

“I am so sorry you are not well. Is there anything I com do? Shall I have the pleasure of seeing you. at dinnertime?"

In a few minutes Brookes brought back an answer: “Dear Grant,

“There is nothing the matter with me. If it is any pleasure to you, I will come to dinner."

TN A sense he hated the satisfaction with which he read A.the few lines. He turned around ami faced himself a little savagely as he realized the feeling. The wind, which had been freshening during the last few days, was now blowing almost a gale. He put on his oil-skins, lit a pipe, and walked out on deck. Even he, a yachtsman from his boyhood, had to crawl along for some time, clutching at any support he could find, until he reached the railing. Linking his arm through it, he stood and looked down at the boiling cauldron of waters below. Grey clouds were rolling up all around them. White-capped waves rose one after another, as though to defy their progress. The First Officer passed him on his way to the bridge.

“Heavy sea, sir, for the time of the year,” he observed. “Is it getting worse, do you think?”

The man shook his head.

“It will blow itself out by dusk, sir,” he prophesied. “It’s a pleasure to see the way she rifles through it.”

walked for an hour in the roar of the wind and with the spray dashing continually in his face. Towards the hour of twilight there was a faint yellow line of light westward—the only parting in the ever-gathering clouds.

“What do you think of it, Captain?” Grant asked.

“I’m thinking she’s the grandest little weather boat I’ve ever been on,” the latter replied. “All the same it’s as well we’re on the southern route. We might have lost a boat or two. It will be down before morning, sir.”

Grant, curiously excited by the exhilaration of the storm, changed for dinner a little before his usual time, and made his way to the tiny smoke-room. Brookes was already there, mixing cocktails.

“We will have a bottle of the special Clicquot to-night,” Grant ordered.

“Her Highness is dining, I believe, sir,” the man told him. “She said that she felt much better.”

RANT nodded, furious with himself that the indifference with which he replied was only assumed. He stood in the swaying room, holding on to one of the fixed chairs, bitterly resenting the sudden access of weakness which made him half long for, half dread, her coming. Then he heard an unexpected sound—the sound of her laughter, silvery, almost gay, as she came cautiously in, holding on to the wall. He stepped forward to meet her, and led her to a chair. She looked at him wonderingly.

“Whatever have you been doing, Grant?” she exclaimed. “What a colour you have! You look as though something marvelous had happened.”

He shook his head.

“Just the storm,” he answered. “It was wonderful this afternoon.”

She nodded.

“I watched it from my porthole. In a way it excited me too. I was glad you sent your little message, Grant.”

She looked at him and the fingers which held his glass shook. She was wearing a simpler dress even than the night before -a gown of black and silver brocade, whose only fastening was a girdle around her waist. It was cut low at the1 throat and she was wearing no jewellery, not even her pearls, to conceal the white softness of her neck. When ho looked at her arms he saw that the sleeves were wide and loose.

“I am afraid that I was a little churlish last night,” he confessed, “and I didn’t mean to be, Gertrude.”

She caught at his fingers and held them for a moment.

“You are a dear, Grant,” she said, “but you do carry the executioner’s knife with you. To-night let us forget. I think I, too, have the storm in my heart. Let us forget the pain that crimes when one remembers—when one passes on to solitude. You shall be my agreeable companion at dinner-time, and we will imagine that afterwards —well, what shall I say?—Otto is waiting for me in the lounge, you are on your way up to solve bridge

“If we dine at all,” Grant iaughed, as the spray suddenly beat against the porthole. “This may put the fires out.”

“The bugle has gone anyhow,” she answered.

SHE was forced to cling to him along the passage. He had, even, once to support her. In the saloon everything had been made fast as far as possible, and deep fiddles were upon the table. The service of the meal, however, was unimpaired. Gertrude had found her appetite. So also had Grant. Conversation became suddenly a pleasure. It was as though the whole awkwardness, the whole tragic significance of their presence alone in the middle of the Atlantic had been swept away. She began to talk of Berlin, the efforts of the aristocracy to reinstate themselves, the silent influence of Lutrecht, Blunn and his wonderful love of life and dark background of unscrupulous ambition. He, who was usually so full of reserve, told her, what only one or two people in the world knew, of his visit to Berlin as a traveller in steel, told her how he had stayed at a commercial hotel and dodged the fashionable quarters of the city, of how he had seen her once in the distance, driving. He even told her what she wore. She laughed into his face, with glad eyes.

“You remember my ermines. You remember just what I wore. And yet you pretend that you don’t care.”

“I have never pretended quite so much as that,” he answered.

The wine danced in their glasses.

“Wonderful!” Gertrude declared. “No one ever has such wonderful wine as you, Grant. Or is it drinking with you makes me think so, I wonder. When you can leave off being severe, when you can look like a human being, something like the dear Grant of only a few years ago—then you make life seem too thrilling. Oh, if only I had the power to soften your heart just a little, to breathe memories into your brain, to have your eyes soften and have you feel—well, you have felt things for me, Grant.” “And you for me?” he ventured.

“As for no one else,” she answered, “then and, alas, now.”

HE FELT a sudden rebellious stirring of the pulses, and he set his teeth. She laughed at him, half provocatively, half insolently.

“Grant,” she begged, “just this one night may we have some more wine? Hearing the thunder of those seas breaking outside excites me. I had no lunch and I’m hungry and thirsty.”

Brookes hastened away. They were alone for a moment. She leaned towards him. He sat quite still. Her lips rested for a second delicately, yet tenderly, upon his, and passed away.

“The storm,” she whispered. “Put it down to that. All the strange things that one can’t see at normal times

do you know you really have got better-looking during the last three years. I like the way yóu do your hair, and those tiny little bits of grey at the sides.”

“Are you trying to turn my head?” he replied, uneasily. “If I could, I would,” she confessed. “Why think of it? Why speak of it? I love the excitement of this great motion, the thrill of being here alone with you. We are somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic, aren’t we, Grant? Oh, I wonder what Otto is thinking about?”

She leaned back and laughed, showing her perfect teeth, the faint colour once more back in her pale cheeks.

“I think I must have an evil nature,” she went on, “because I love to think of him now, tearing his hair, and cursing—impotent. If there’s anything in the world really detestable, it’s a jealous man who takes no pains to keep what he has—a jealous man who thinks that what he has bought—bought at the altar—is his by divine right.”

Grant rose to his supreme effort. He braced himself and fought against the personal note which had crept into their conversation. He tried to discuss the future of the nations, but she would have none of that. He told stories, and she suffered herself to be amused. But all the time the atmosphere which she had created seemed to remain. Her eyes were continually seeking his, begging for that answering flash which bespoke a common understanding.

“Ah, Grant,” she said once, as they lingered, for a moment over their last glass of wine, “how happy I am to-night. You were adorable to fetch me from my solitude. Do you know that, if you had sent me no word, T should have stayed on where I_was. I think that I should have died.”

“I missed you,” he acknowledged simply.

“Dear man!” she murmured. “And yet you’were trying all the time to look as though I were an intruder, as though I had committed some unforgivable sin. I suppose I have really,” she went on. “There are some who will never forgive me. An hourjor two ago, I thought that I should never forgive myself. The greatest shame of life seemed so near.”

1LTE HAD the sudden feeling of a terrified animal.

Every door of escape seemed closed, and with It all there was the hateful singing in his blood, the crude insistence of primitive passion. Susan seemed to be receding, to be watching him from afar off, a little sad—just a dream. Again he swung himself into battle.

“A delightful dinner, and such a dinner as I never dreamed of alone with you,” he declared.

‘Now comes the difficult part. Can we get into the smoke-room?”

“Easily,” she scoffed.

They made their way, holding on to the tables.

The yacht was plunging and rolling even more than ever.

“I ought to go on deck,” he told her, “and see how things are looking.”

“Presently,” she pleaded. “Come into the music-room for a minute or two. That will leave me only a step across to my room. We can have our coffee there.”

They made their way into the little rose and white music-room. Opposite, through the hooked door, was a glimpse of her own suite. The steward brought them in coffee and liqueurs. He steadied himself with difficulty. Suddenly one of the lights went out. Only the standard was left heavily shaded and obscured.

The Captain told me to say, sir,” Brookes reported, “that all was well on deck, but there has been a mishap to the batteries supplying the electric light, and we may be short for an hour or so.

The electrician is already at work repairing.”

Grant nodded.

I shall come on deck before I go to bed,” he said.

The roaring of the wind seemed louder, and the beating of the great waves over the portholes more insistent. She felt her way to the music stool.

“Now,” she announced, “I shall sing to you. You shall hear my singing above the storm, if I have enough voice left. Come near,

Grant. ^ Come where I can see you.”

Her fingers wandered over the keys, then struck a few familiar chords.

T • Hack-neyed>” she laughed up at him, “but so apposite, isten, dear man of surpassing strength.”

She sang “Mow coeur s'ouvre a ta voix," sang with her voice sometimes drowned by the booming of [the sea and wind, sometimes rising clear and insistent through the

momentary silences, always with that faint note of an actual passion, which fired his blood. When she had stopped she held out her arms. He took her gently into his but he held her away:

“Don’t do this, Gertrude,” he begged.

Her head sank back. He saw a look of absolute terror in her eyes. She was like a limp burden in his arms.

“I am faint,” she whispered. “Carry me across.”

He staggered with her out of the room, across the passage-way, unhooked her door, and bent over her, alarmed. Suddenly there was a shock greater than they had felt before. The light in the stateroom went out, the door slammed. He saw her eyes open, blaze up at his through the darkness. Her arms around his neck, were suddenly like a vise. She clung to him madly.

“Grant,” she cried. “You have to kiss me now. This may be the end!”

BOOK II.

CHAPTER I.

RANT, returning from an early stroll in the streets of New York on the morning after his arrival, looked with dismay at the three capable and determinedlooking young men who occupied chairs in his sittingroom, and at the one young lady, who, having placed her note-book upon the table, was deeply immersed in a novel. They all rose at his entrance. Jim Havers of the New York Letter, was the first to announce himself. “Glad to meet you, Mr. Slattery.”

“Tarleton, of the Moon," his neighbour announced. “Glad tb welcome you back to New York, Mr. Slattery.” “Booker, of the Chronicle," the third young man echoed. “Hope we’re not too early for you.”

“I’m Phoebe Smiles,” the young lady told him, with

the air of one who imparts information which should be entirely unnecessary. “You know about me, I dare say.” Grant shook hands with all of them.

“Look here,” he said, “I’m very glad to see you, and to be welcomed back home, but what’s it all about? I’m not a novelist, or a politician, or an English nobleman. You can’t get headlines out of me.”

“Not so sure that we mightn’t, sir,” Tarleton replied cheerfully. “We thought, as we all arrived in a bunch, we’d better wait and see whether you had any preference as to which section of the Press you talked to. If you haven’t you can give it to us all together. We can use the stuff a bit differently.”

“But I’m no use to you fellows,” Grant protested. “I’d just as soon talk to you all together as singly. In fact I’d rather. It saves time. But what do you want me to talk

about?”

“First of all your voyage home,” Tarleton suggested. “Some hurricane you struck, eh?”

“We ran into a terrible storm about two days out of Gibraltar,” Grant told them. “The Grey Lady behaved magnificently. Captain Martin and every one of my officers really deserve a word of praise. We didn’t even lose a boat, and, as you know, some of the big liners got badly knocked about.”

“That’s interesting,” Tarleton admitted, making a few notes. “There’s just one other little thing about the voyage, Mr. Slattery.”

“Go ahead.” Grant invited.

npHE three men looked at one another. Tarleton apA peared to be almost embarrassed—an unusual situation for a newspaper man. Grant, who had pushed a box of cigars across the table, lit a cigarette, and threw himself into an easy chair.

“There have been some rumours going around,” Tarleton said at last, “about a romantic stowaway.”

“Really!” Grant remarked. “I haven’t heard them. What sort of a stowaway?”

“A lady,” Booker interposed, taking up his share of the burden. “A lady who has been missing for some time from Monte Carlo.”

“Is that so!” Grant exclaimed. “What was her name?”

“The Princess von Diss.”

Grant stared at him for a moment. “Do you mean to suggest that the Princess von Diss was a passenger on board my yacht?” he demanded.

“That’s the story that’s been going round,” Tarleton acknowledged.

“The idea seems to be that she smuggled herself on board without your knowledge,” Havers intervened, “and was only discovered on the third day out.”

“A beautiful romance,” Miss Phoebe Smiles murmured.

“Of course,” Tarleton suggested diffidently, “this might very reasonably seem to be a subject upon which you might not care to talk. Say the word, and we’ll quit. Put it to us that on the subject of the missing Princess von Diss, Mr. Slattery had nothing to say, and down it goes in our books and we’ll pass on to the next.”

Grant smiled.

“I think you can go a little further than that,” he said. “You can assure the millions in New York, who are interested in this sort of thing that I dined with the.Princess von Diss on the night before I left Monte Carlo, at a dinner-party given by Mr. Cornelius Blunn, the multi-millionaire—a dinner which included her husband, the Prince von Diss, the King of Gothland, the English Prime Minister, and various other distinguished people. Since that evening I have not seen or heard of the Princess.”

The pencils were, for a moment, busy. “One may take it, then,” Tarleton ventured, “that these stories of a romantic stowaway on board your yacht are untrue.”

“Entirely,” Grant assured them. “There was a large black cat discovered when we were three days out. She was the only stowaway I know about.” “Good heading, that,” Booker observed.

“ROMANTIC STOWAWAY ON MRGRANT SLATTERY’S YACHT DISCOVERED. ANSWERS TO THE NAME OF LIZZIE.”

“Well, that disposes of the less important object of our visit,” Havers declared. “Can you say anything to us, Mr. Slattery, about the Nice Conference of the Pact of Nations, and the invitation which was sent from there to this country?”

“I was in Monte Carlo at the time,” Grant replied, “and I had the privilege of meeting Lord Yeovil often. I look upon the invitation as one of the greatest events of this decade. Lord Yeovil ran a great risk in bringing it forward. There was, as you may have heard, opposition.”

Pencils were poised and an eager air of expectancy made itself felt.

“Can you." Tarleton asked, “tell us which countries opposed the invitation?”

“The negative votes are recorded by black balls,” •Grant explained. “I can only tell you that three were given. No one could say who put them in.”

“Did you hear any rumours as to which countries probably did oppose the motion?” Jim Havers enquired.

NUCE and Monte Carlo were full of gossip,” Grant replied. "But you must remember that very few people knew even what the system of voting was, much less that there were three black balls actually recorded. You gentlemen have made your scoop in being the first to publish that information. I had meant to have it published here. One of my objects in revisiting America is to impress upon my fellow countrymen the absolute necessity of accepting this invitation from the Pact.”

“I see,” Havers murmured. “You probably have a little more information up your sleeve, Mr. Slattery.” “I have a few more things to say,” Grant confessed. “But I think I’ve given you fellows something to be going on with. I noticed that one of our well-known politicians, in rather a flamboyant speech last night, declared that America has no enemies. It is a foolish statement to make. Those three black balls proved the contrary."

“America has done very well so far by keeping out of the Pact,” Booker remarked.

“It has been in accordance with her principles to remain aloof from European affairs,” Tarleton put in.

“She occupies a mighty powerful position as a lookeron,” Havers declared.

“All that belongs to the past,” Grant explained earnestly. “America’s policy in keeping out of all these compacts except the Limitation of Armaments may have been a sound one. Personally, I am inclined to contest it. However, it is of the future we have to think. Times and conditions have changed. You must remember, too, that the constitution of the Pact is peculiar. Subscription to its principles and inclusion in its membership makes war between any of the nations belonging impossible. On the other hand any member or members of the Pact may make war against any nation outside the Pact without breaking their covenant. In fact, it would be against its established principles for any nation belonging to the Pact to intervene.”

fOU’RE not seriously suggesting, Mr. Slattery,” Booker enquired, after a brief silence, “that any nation or combination of nations would dream of attacking the United States?”

“I have not said so, but I see nothing absurd in the idea,” Grant assured them. “We are a mighty country in wealth, man-power and brains, but we have faithfully obeyed the statutes of the Limitation of Armaments and we are to-day no stronger than many a poorer country, i it her on land or on sea. A combination of any two pov.er, you ran name would have the advantage of us.”

"It. would take a great deal to start a war scare in this country, ' Havers remarked with a. smile.

“There were a great many people who didn’t believe war was pos.Uhle it; nlneteen-fourteen,” Grant pointed out. “it carne, never! Iwless. The trouble is that the United States ol America are governed too much by men who have never left i heir own country. To them America is omnipotent. Ion. v, ho have t ravelled and seen other things, she is not."

got something • han we expected from this visit,” Jim Have, admitted frankly. “I won’t promise you that my paper, loi i■ is going to record your views sympathetically. Ur. Shot cry. But whether they put. them up like a puppet hor to Imock them down again, or whether they i-spouse them for their own, there’s going to besome big typo i, .-r!

“I’m quite content,” Grant repU-y ‘ I’m here to lie laughed at, if you will. But, I’m Imre Pi tell you what I believe to be the truth, and I’m going on to Washington with a few more little facts to lay before some friends of mine up there. I want to see America accepi ¡bal invitation, naturally, cordially, and freely. Then i am going to throw my hat into the air. And I shall have eau.w t.o do it,

"I’d like a few more of your reasons for adopting this attitude,” Havers suggested.

“You won’t have them to-day,” Grant told them bluntly. "I have an appointment with an important

person in the newspaper line later in the day, and I am going to Washington on Thursday. WThen I get back we’ll see how things go. I have some more facts up my sleeve, but I’ve got to build up my case. Good-morning, gentlemen. Take another cigar, won’t you, Mr. Havers? Glad to see any of you when I get back from Washington.”

THEY filed out with a handshake and a word of thanks.

Miss Phoebe Smiles lingered behind. She waited until the door was closed. She was very neatly and smartly dressed. She had an appealing air and an exceedingly engaging smile. She smiled now at Grant.

“Mr. Slattery,” she begged. “You might tell me the truth about that romantic stowaway.”

“My dear young lady,” he replied. “I have already told you, you and the others, that the story was a fabrication.”

“That’s all very well for the others,” she pleaded, “you see they’re good chaps and sportsmen and they couldn’t press the point, with a lady in it. But the story’s bound to come out, Mr. Slattery, and I should know just how to handle it. You were once engaged to marry the Princess von Diss, weren’t you?”

“Yes, and she jilted me,” Grant acknowledged. “What is the object of reminding me of that little episode, Miss Smiles?”

“Now you’re angry,” she cried regretfully. “I’m so sorry. Only you see, Mr. Slattery, journalism is so much more difficult for a woman than a man and it would be such a wonderful thing for me if you felt inclined to tell the truth about that stowaway.”

He opened the door.

“Miss Smiles,” he said, “I can only add this to what I have already told your fellow visitors,—she took milk three times a day and scraps when she could get them. But here is your scoop as you insist upon it. She had green eyes, green pasionate eyes, and her name was not Lizzie at all, it was Henrietta. Come back when the others come, won’t you, Miss Smiles?”

The young lady smiled and pouted a little.

“You look so nice and yet you’re so hard,” she complained, lingering on the threshold.

“You are mistaken. I am really very susceptible,” Grant assured her. “That is why I am going to lock my door as soon as you are out of sight.”

She heard the key turn in the lock as she made her way towards the passage from which the lift descended. Whilst she waited she looked at herself in the glass, and gave a little sigh. She was not used to rebuffs.

“It must be this hat,” she decided, giving it a little push on one side. “I was never sure about it. . . Down, please.”

CHAPTER II.

GRANT, a little later in the morning, presented himself at the office of the newspaper in New York which was generally considered to be the most influential and weighty in the Metropolis. Its correspondents were to be found in every capital of the world. One of the editors was received weekly at the White House. It stood for what was sane and beneficent in American legislation and the cause which it espoused was seldom known to languish. The editor, Daniel Stoneham, was an old friend of Grant’s, and on sending up his card he was shown at once into his presence. The two men shook hands warmly.

“Good man, Grant!” Stoneham exclaimed. “Glad to see you back again. One hears of you hobnobbing with Kings and Prime Ministers and the great people of the earth. Quite time you showed a little interest in your own country.”

“Well, I’m here on the old job,” Grant declared, sinking into the easy chair to which his friend had pointed and accepting a cigarette.

“The deuce you are!” the other observed, with some surprise. “I thought since you had become a millionaire you’d turned slacker. I haven’t heard anything of you for a year or so.”

“I’ve been doing much more difficult and unpleasant work than ever before in my life,” Grant confided. “I’ve been doing Secret Service work which is only half official. That is to say, that if I get into trouble I’m not acknowledged and if I do any good work the Department gets the scoop. That doesn’t matter, though. The point is that I’ve made a scoop on my own. There’s trouble tirewing.”

“What sort of trouble?” Stoneham demanded. “Do you mean anything in connection with the invitation from Nice?”

“Well, I’ll tell you this for one thing. That invitation would never have been sent but for me.”

“Say, you’re not pulling my leg, are you?”

“1 was never more in earnest in my life. It was touch and go with Lord Yeovil’s proposition. There were three votes against it. Four would have barred it. The fourth man had been bought for fifty thousand pounds. I imitated the methods of the adventurous novelists and abducted him. I kept him out at sea all night and the voting took place without him. If he’d got there in time Lord Yeovil’s motion would have been defeated, America

would never have been invited to join the Pact and the trouble which is even now brewing against her would have developed very rapidly.”

“Serious business this, Grant,” Stoneham remarked.

“The most serious part of it is that it’s the truth,” Grant rejoined drily. “However, the first stage in the battle has been won. The invitation has been dispatched to Washington. Now I tell you where the second stage of the battle begins and where America will need the aid of every one of her loyal citizens. There will be, without the slightest doubt, an immense and cunningly engineered propaganda to prevent America’s accepting that invitation. I want to fight that propaganda, Daniel. I want you to help me.’

' I 'HE editor sat back in his chair and his thoughtful grey eyes studied Grant’s face. Pie was a short man, clean-shaven, with smooth black hair streaked with grey. Whenever any one wished to annoy him they called him the Napoleon of journalism. Still, the likeness was there.

“Whose were the three votes against the invitation being sent to America?”

“Germany, Japan and Russia.”

“And the one which would have been given but for your intervention?”

“Scandinavia,” Grant replied. “That of, course, has no political significance. It was simply that the man himself was bought.”

“And what do you suppose is the reason for Germany and Japan voting against the United States being allowed to join the Pact?” Stoneham asked.

“I believe it is their intention to attack us,” Grant pronounced. “The Pact only forbids aggressions between the countries belonging. She has no jurisdiction even over her own members who find cause of quarrel with an outside country. We’ve been a little too high and mighty, Stoneham. If we’d decided to adopt the attitude of remaining outside the affairs of the world we should never have subscribed to the Limitation of Armaments. To-day, for all our great wealth, our immense man power, and our supreme civilization, the combined armaments of Japan and Germany are precisely double our own.”

“Of course,” Stoneham said, “if any other man in the world were to come to me and talk like this, I should say that he was a lunatic.”

“I am no lunatic, Dan,” Grant declared. “I know very well what I am talking about.”

“Have you any proofs?”

“I sent them to Washington an hour after I landed. You don’t need them, Dan. You believe me, I know.”

“Yes, I believe you.’;

“And you’ll help? You’ll put that in the forefront of your whole policy, the acceptance by the United States of this invitation from the Pact? You’ll press it home to the people, Dan? Remember it’s our last chance. We’ve refused twice.”

STONEHAM was curiously silent. He was looking for a moment out of the uncurtained window, away over the sky-scrapers and chimney pots to where little flashes of the blue Hudson, with its tangle and burden of sea and river-going craft were visible. There was something smouldering in his eyes.

“Grant,” he said at last, “you’ve brought me news. I have some to give you. In a way, although I never realized it before, my news bears upon yours.”

“Get along with it,” Grant begged.

“A commanding interest in this paper—three-quarters of the shares in fact—was signed away last night. The control of the paper has gone out of our hands altogether.” “Who is the buyer?”

“Feliz Pöttinger,” was the quiet reply.

“And who’s behind him?”

“They tried to keep that secret. But I found out by an accident. The real buyer is Cornelius Blunn of Berlin.” Grant was thunderstruck. -

“Fifteen days ago,” he confided after a brief silence, “I was a guest at a dinner party given by that man. A few days before that we were scrapping on my yacht. He tried to start a mutiny. Offered ten thousand pounds to some of my youngsters to get the yacht back in time for his Scandinavian friend to vote at the Nice Conference. Blunn and I have had the gloves off all the time. He sent some one down from Berlin to spy on me at Monte Carlo. My God! this comes of our hospitality to foreigners. This is where we make a laughing stock of ourselves for. all the world. Cornelius Blunn! The German multi-millionaire! The man who hates America, her industries and her politics, is calmly allowed to come here and buy the only great American newspaper which represents no other interests save those of America.”

“There is a certain amount of irony in the situation,” Stoneham admitted. “You know what happened, I dare say. The Chief, after fifteen years of wisdom, went on to Wall Street a few months ago. He lost between five and ten millions and had a stroke. 1 suppose this will just see him through.”

“I thought the old man wouldn’t have done it if he’d been himself,” Grant muttered. “1 suppose I’d better go and see Dawson.”

“You’ll have a hard nut to crack. 1 hèàîd Dawson Bpeak only last night at a dinner. His references to the invitation were very perfunctory indeed. He’s one of the men who believe in America for the Americans. . . You needn’t look so depressed, though. What about me? I shall be out of a job within a week.”

“Come and have some lunch?” Grant invited. Stoneham shook his head.

“I guess not. We’re all in a state of nerves here. Waiting to hear what’s going to happen. The sale seems to have been a lightning-like affair. We’re expecting a visit from Pöttinger any minute. Shouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t take over within twenty-four hours.”

“Couldn’t you get one article in?” Grant suggested. “I’ll try,” Stoneham assented. “Where are you?”

“The Great Central. They’re getting my flat ready at Sherrey’s if I stay on. Things seem a trifle uncertain at present.”

“I’ll ring you up,” Stoneham promised.

GRANT lunched at his Club, where he met many of his friends and acquaintances to whom he was simply a rather restless, much to be envied millionaire. Whenever he could, he brought the subject of conversation round to the Nice invitation. Toa certain extent he was dismayed by the prevalent criticisms.

“Guess there’s no one in the world so thick-skinned as a Britisher,” one man declared. “You can’t keep him in his place unless you tie him there. What does America want, sending her best men away from home, and spending her time and money on these wearisome conferences? They don’t amount to anything, anyway.”

“England’s got a scare about something or other, and wants to hold her big relation’s hand,” another usually well-informed man remarked. “For all their strength, there was never a less self-reliant nation.”

“It’s just like English statesmanship to make it difficult for them up at Washington,” a third occupant of the smoke-room pointed out. “It simply puts our Government in an embarrassing situation. Nobody wants

to seem ungracious, and it won’t be easy to say no. At the same time I can’t see that a shadow of good can come of acceptance. They’re always squabbling at the Pact meetings, like they are at the Limitation of Armaments. The latest canard now is that Japan has secretly built some flying ships, which could destroy any fleet afloat.”

Grant remained a listener only. He left the Club about the middle of the afternoon, and after a few minutes’ anxious deliberation, was driven to the Hotel des Ambassadeurs.

“Is the Princess von Diss staying here?” he asked the reception clerk at the desk.

“Not at present, sir,” the young man replied, with a curious glance at Grant.

“I saw by the newspapers that she was in Newport,” the latter persisted, “and was coming here.”

“We have been asked for no reservation at present,” he was assured.

Grant scribbled the name of his Hotel and the number of his suite on the back of a card and passed it across.

“If the Princess should arrive,” he begged, “will you let her have this?”

“With pleasure, sir.”

GRANT went back to his sitting-room and considered the situation. If he approached Dawson, the editor and part-proprietor of the next most important paper to the New York, he was absolutely sure of an unsympathetic hearing. Dawson, already prejudiced, would believe nothing without proofs, and such proofs as Grant possessed were, by this time, in the hands of his official sponsor in Washington. He changed early, dined at another of his Clubs and wandered into two or three more of which he was a member. He found nowhere any particular interest in the subject which was to him such a vital one. Everybody was hugely concerned with his own affairs, the price of American markets, the latest singer at the Opera, the winning of the amateur golf championship of the world by an American, the success of the American tennis players on the Riviera. A few people seemed to regard Lord

Yeovil’s proposition as a kindly act, but altogether unnecessary. America was splendid in her isolation, strong and secure as the Rock of Gibraltar. No wonder there was a desire on the part of the other nations to fasten like limpets upon her.» One didn’t wish to hurt England’s feelings, but it would have been better policy to have enquired first whether such an invitation would be acceptable.

“And how the mischief,” Grant was driven at last to observe, “could America have replied to that? We haven’t an official, even the President, with sufficient authority. The matter now is put on a definite basis. The Legislature must decide.”

“Sure,” the young man to whom he had been speaking, agreed listlessly. “Look here, Grant,” he went on with a sudden accession of interest, “you must have seen the Hoyt brothers play over at Monte Carlo. Is it true what they say—that the elder’s getting stale? I’ve a thousand dollars on their match against the Frenchmen.”

“I saw very little tournament tennis,” Grant answered. “The Hoyts are great favourites for the match, anyhow.”

He found his way back to his rooms comparatively early. There was no telephone message from the “Ambassadeurs,”—a scribbled note from Stoneham.

“Dear Grant,” it said,

“Thought you'd like to know Pöttinger took over at six o'clock, asked to see the leading article for to-morrow's paper and tore it into small pieces. He's in possession. We're out, lock, stock and barrel. You'd better get to work. “Dan.”

Grant tore the note thoughtfully across and put through a long distance call to Washington. Then he threw himself wearily into an easy chair. The roar of the city, abating but slightly as night advanced still mercilessly insistent, soothed him. He closed his eyes, mindful of sleepless nights. The tinkle of the telephone bell awoke him. In a few moments he was through to Washington.

“Brendon, Secretary, speaking,” a voice announced. ‘Ts that Mr. Slattery?” “Grant Slattery speaking,” was the prompt rejoinder.

“Can you come to Washington .tomorrow? The Chief would like to see you.” “I’ll catch the ten o’clock train,” Grant promised.

He went to bed better satisfied. The struggle had commenced.

CHAPTER III.

GRANT felt that on the whole he was well received at Washington. A very great man indeed vouchsafed him his confidence.

“I am going so far as to tell you, Mr. Slattery,” he said, “that I, personally, am in favour of accepting the invitation of the Pact of Nations. I have met Lord Y eovil once or twice and I am perfectly certain that he is sincere in his friendship for this country. The attitude of isolation, which some of our most brilliant statesmen have acclaimed, is not, in my opinion, a sound one in these days of practical politics. I would welcome a decision of my Government which brought us into line with the Great Powers of Europe. At thesame time, to be equally frank with you, I cannot for one moment believe that there exists any Power in the world or any combination of Powers which would dream of flaunting the world’s desire for peace and making an unprovoked attack upon this country.” “Neither should I, sir,” Grant answered hastily, “unless I had lived in the shadow of these people and had imbibed their hopes and ambitions. Take, for one moment, Japan. I have lived in Tokio, and other cities of the country for a year. I lived there not as an American but as an Englishman. Japan is a very proud country. The sons of her over-populated Empire have penetrated with difficulty but still without vital resistance into most quarters of the world. It has remained with America to place an embargo upon her citizenship, to enunciate the great principle of the inferiority of the yellow races. There, sir, lies the cause of the undying enmity of the people of Japan, for the Government of this country.”

“It was really an affair of state, not international legislation,” his host reminded him.

“That has not affected the question,” Grant insisted. “The feeling is there. Then take the case of Germany. She cannot strike against England or France. They are members of the Pact. But do you think that twenty years, or two hundred years, would quench that desire for revenge w'hich has been part of the birth-right of every living German to-day? There remains of her foes only America. Do you realize, sir, the anomaly of subscribing to the Limitation of Armaments and refusing to accept the protection of the Pact of Nations?”

“Theoretically, again, yes,” was the considered reply. “But, practically, I am entirely with my advisers. I do not believe in the possibility of any hostile action against this country. At the same time, you will see that I am quite frank with you, for I admit I should prefer to be associated with the Pact of Nations. My efforts will be devoted in that direction.”

{BEG that you will make them strenuous efforts, sir,” Grant enjoined. “You have read the memoranda I addressed to the Secretary?”

“With great interest and some amusement,” was the smiling reply. “Am 1 really to accept the account of the happenings on board your yacht as being authentic?”

“They are not even exaggerated, sir,” Grant assured his auditor earnestly. “If I had not kept Funderstrom out all that night, Lord Yeovil’s motion would have been lost.”

“I must accept your word, ot course. On the other hand you must admit that the whole thing reads like a piece of Opera Bouffe. Before we leave this subject, Mr. Slattery, I should like to ask you one more question. You have spoken of the hostile intentions of Japan and Germany against this country. Have you ever come to any conclusion as to the manner in which this hostility was to be displayed?”

“Sir,” Grant replied, "I am a wealthy man, so this is of no moment, but I have spent, a hundred thousand dollars trying to get hold of a perfectly simple document which I know to be in existence. There is an elaborated scheme agreed to by Japan and Germany, which is intended to

strike at the very heart of our existence, and for which I have the strongest reasons for believing that Mr. Cornelius Blunn is responsible. There are two people from whom I hope to obtain it. Both have, so far, disappointed me. Nevertheless I shall get it some day. As regards the part of the conspiracy dealing with direct warfare, that, without a doubt, is to be conducted by sea; the German fleet coming

from eastwards to the Atlantic sea-board, the Japanese fleet to San Francisco. I might point out, sir, that the American fleet, honourably kept within the Limitation of Armaments Statutes, would be utterly unequal to dealing with both adversaries arriving from opposite directions.”

“You drive me to the conclusion, Mr. Slattery, that I am devoid of imagination,” his host observed smiling. “I cannot conceive the spectacle of those two fleets approaching our shores with a hostile purpose. You need not take it as a cause for alarm that I am unable to embrace your theory. So far as you are concerned I am with you on the practical side of the matter. My influence will be directed towards securing an acceptance of Lord Yeovil’s proposition.”

GRANT rose to his feet. His companion laid a detaining hand upon his shoulder.

“My wife desires that you will give us the pleasure of lunching with us,” he said. “Her mother and yours were friends, as you may know. And I, myself, was at Harvard with your uncle. I knew your father, too, although he graduated a year or two before me. You are, I hope, free?” “I shall be honoured,” Grant acceded. Luncheon was an informal meal. A few officials were present, two ladies who were distant relatives of the host, a recent arrival amongst the diplomats and a newly elected senator. The presiding genius of the establishment took Grant under her special protection.

“I’m not going to pretend to be tactful, Mr. Sl'attery,” she declared, “because you know that Gertrude’s mother and I were great friends, and I was, at one time, very fond of Gertrude. I think I was one of the first, to notice her friendship with Otto vori Diss, and certainly one of the first to disapprove of it. I’m a terrible gossip, and I read all the society papers. So of course, I know that you have been meeting at Monto ('arlo. Tell me, has she changed?” “She is as beautiful as ever,” Grant said, “but she has certainly changed. She lias gained a great deal, and I think lost something.”

“She can’t possibly be still in love with that ridiculous little husband of hers.”

RANT was silent for a moment. J Under ordinary circumstances he felt that his hostess’s lack of reserve was really the truest form of tact. But the things she did not know were burning in his brain.

“I did not see a great deal of Gertrude in Monte Carlo,” he confided. “Her husband arrived unexpectedly, and I

think that he is of a very jealous temperament.”

“Were you speaking of Gertrude von Diss?” one of the women from across the table interposed. “I see from the paper that she is in Newport, just arrived from Europe.”

His hostess turned enquiringly towards Grant.

“I heard the same rumour,” the latter

remarked, “but I scarcely think that it can be true. I enquired in New York but no one there knew anything about her. At the same time it is certainly a fact, as I learned this morning, that her husband’s friend, Cornelius Blunn, who was with us all at Monte Carlo, landed in New York two days ago. The von Disses may have come with him.”

Grant’s host frowned for a moment.

“Blunn seems to have a great many friends in this country,” he observed. “He appears to spend half his time going backwards and forwards.”

“His present visit seems to have been to some purpose,” Grant declared a little bitterly.

“In what respect?”

Grant was, for a moment, taken aback.

“You know about Mr. Cornelius Blunn’s purchase, sir,” he ventured.

“I’ve heard nothing,” was the somewhat impatient reply.

“I am sure I beg your pardon, sir. It would have been my first item of news, but I never imagined that Gordon Marsham would have acted without giving you notice.”

“What’s Gordon Marsham got to do with it?”

“Just this much, sir,” Grant pointed out. “He has sold the Neiv York to Cornelius Blunn. A man named Pöttinger is the new editor. Stoneham’s article which should have appeared this morning, welcoming the invitation from the Pact, was torn into small pieces.”

GRANT’S host was more perturbed than he had been during the whole of the morning.

“Marsham’s action,” he declared, “is absolutely unbelievable. He knows perfectly well that the New York has become almost the mouthpiece of the Government. It was practically a subsidized journal. To dispose of it secretly, just now, to a German-American, without even advising us, is an amazing proceeding. You are sure that you are not misinformed, Mr. Slattery?”

“Absolutely certain,” was the confident reply. “The discourtesy to you, sir, can only be explained by Mr. Marsham’s breakdown in health.”

“It is a very serious event,” was the grave acknowledgment. “The New York was the one great American paper— a paper which, when things really mattered, brushed aside minor issues and preached the gospel of real things. One of the editors used to be here every week. I always treated him with the utmost confidence.”

“Have you ever met Cornelius Blunn, sir?” Grant enquired.

“Once only. A genial, simple fellow he seemed, for such a master of industry, I could scarcely believe that I was talking to the owner of so many gigantic commercial undertakings.”

“He is outwardly the most simple and good-natured, and inwardly the most inscrutable person I ever came across,” Grant confided. “There is a rumor about him that he carries wherever he goes, night and day, locked and padlocked in a little casket of gold, a letter written by his father on his deathbed.”

“How romantic!” one of the women murmured.

“Has any one any idea as to its contents?” some one else asked.

Grant shook his head.

“I was once told,” he said, “that if one could read that letter one could read the riddle of Blunn’s life. I have formed my own idea about it.”

“A secret?” his hostess enquired.

“Not amongst us,” Grant replied, “1 believe that it is an injunction from Blunn senior—who died, they say, of a broken heart, some years after the signing of the Peace of Versailles—to his son to devote his life towards avenging Germany’s humiliation. Personally, I believe that that is the motive before Blunn day and night. I believe that with that end in view he is deliberately working to upset the peace of the world.”

GRANT’S pronouncement was received, as he had expected, with disfavour. His host merely smiled. The Senator from the west, who had been waiting impatiently for an opportunity to join in the conversation, cleared his throat and leaned a little forward.

“Sir,” he said, “I guess every man in this country is free to express his opinions. Those may be yours, but I’d like just to tell you how the people down in my state look upon such talk. They say that trouble is made by talking about it, that most of the wars of the world have come about through newspaper discussion in advance and mischievous people going about putting belligerent thoughts into the minds of peaceful people. If I heard you, sir, make such a statement as you have just made on a public platform I should conceive it to be my duty to use every gift of oratory with which I have been endowed to demonstrate to your audience the futility, the absurdity, and the immorality of such a statement. Hearing it under this roof, sir, I say no more than this: War and the desire for war is dead amongst the civilized nations of the world. We are every one of us grappling hard with social and economic problems of far greater consequence. The whimper of a person like Cornelius Blunn, for all his millions, is less than the voice crying in the wilderness, when one considers the majesty and colossal power of the chief nation against whom that voice is raised.”

Grant inclined his head courteously. The bombast of the Senator’s words had appealed slightly to the sense of humour of most of them. Yet Grant was perfectly well aware that the man had spoken the truth when he declared that he was voicing the views of the people of his state. It was a representative expression of opinion. He could even see a qualified but vital assent to it in the faces of most of the little party. His host applied the closure.

“Well,” he said, “we must not drift into too serious argument. We shall all have an opportunity of expressing our views presently upon this subject.”

“In the meantime, sir,” Grant begged, “might I ask Mr. Senator Ross one question.”

“By all means,” was the prompt assent. “Would you, sir,” Grant went on, turning towards the Senator, “vote for the United States accepting the invitation of the Pact of Nations to join them?” “I should not,” was the decided reply. “The Pact of Nations may have need of the United States. The United States has no need of the Pact. As a citizen of the United States I am prouder of the present isolated attitude of my country than I am, even, of her undoubted supremacy in every field of economics and civilization.” The Senator’s sonorous statement was the signal for the breaking up of the little party. Grant was accompanied to the door by one of the secretaries with whom he had some previous acquaintance.

“The old type remains, I see,” the former remarked with a smile.

“It’s the type beloved of the semi-

professional politician,” the young man declared.. “We have one of them to lunch every week. The Chief can’t stand them in larger doses. But you know they have an enormous backing.” -

Grant felt the warning behind his friend’s words, as he walked slowly back towards the Club where he was staying. It was the West, the big brawny West, with its polyglot population, and immense material prosperity, which he chiefly feared.

CHAPTER IV.

GRANT left Washington with a curious mixture of impressions. He had spent a fortnight in the political capital of his country and yet he came away with a strange conviction that he had been somewhere on the edge of real things, that he had talked of vital events with men whose interest in them was chiefly academic. Washington might be the furnace, but impulse took him where the fuel lay. He spent four days in Chicago. He went on to St. Louis and Minneapolis. Then he crossed the continent to Boston where he breathed an entirely different atmosphere. The editors of two great newspapers believed in him and were ready to preach his doctrine. Nevertheless when, after six weeks’ absence, he found himself back in New York, it was with a feeling rather of discomfiture, than of self-satisfaction that he viewed his progress. The magnificent self-assurance of his country seemed impregnable. Even where he had been listened to most kindly he felt that he was receiving the indulgence accorded to a crank.

Arrived in the sitting-room of his hotel he took up his pile of letters and sorted them through. One by one he passed them by. He had commenced his task with a sinking heart. He finished it with a curious admixture of feeling. There was no letter from Gertrude. He rang up the “Ambassadeurs.” They had received no news of any projected visit from the Princess. He felt himself face to face with a new situation. The problems with which he had expected to be confronted seemed to have melted away. Yet to him there was something ominous and disconcerting in this state of negation, something which seemed like the corollary of his own threatened failure in the larger enterprise which he had embraced. He was not an abnormally temperamental person but a fit of black depression suddenly swept over him. The thought of Susan, her sweet, girlish charm, her ingenuous appeal, tugged at his heart strings with swift and passionate little bursts of memory. He cursed himself for the hesitation which had kept him that last night at the Villa, when they had stood alone upon the balcony, and the chance had been his, from taking her into his arms. That one kiss which he had craved from her would have clad him in the armour of a gigantic selfishness towards every other claim or appeal. She had been right. The difference between their ages was a trifling matter, something to be reckoned with if she had been a simpering school girl of her years, but for Susan—with her understanding, her insight, her . delightful womanliness—a thing not worthy of consideration. What was she thinking of him now, he wondered. There had been a certain guardedness in the Press but the story of Gertrude’s flight had blazed along the Riviera, the more ardently believed in, because of the mystery surrounding it. Lord Yeovil’s letters, kindly still and even friendly, betrayed signs of it. There was no mention of Susan or any message from her, a certain restraint in dealing in any way with personal topics. . . Grant moved restlessly to the window. Although it was his own city, the loneliness of a stranger in New York seemed to have enveloped him in a cloud of deepening depression. The magnitude, the sombre magnificence of it all, the towering buildings, the height from which he looked down at the streets like illuminated belts, the tangle of distant lights upon the river, the dull roar of ever proceeding traffic, seemed almost terrifying. A city honeycombed with people, moving on at the hand of destiny; a contemplation for the philosopher, an invitation towards lunacy to the lonely individual. Grant momentarily lost his courage. He seemed °ff from his friends, the destroyer of his own happiness. The sight of a familiar face, the sound of a cheery voice at that moment, would have been a joy to him. He answered almost eagerly the

knocking at his door. A man entered, a man with the two things for which he had felt himself craving—a smile and a cheerful face—but the last person in the world from whom he was expecting to receive a visit.

“Blunn!”—he exclaimed.

The newcomer laughed cheerfully as he deposited his silk hat and Malacca cane upon the table, and withdrew his evening gloves.

“\!l7rELL, well,” he said, “I thought VV we might meet over here. I’m not offering to shake hands, although I’d be very glad to. I’ve come for a chat, though, and when I chat, I like to be comfortable. May I have an easy chair, a whiskey and White Rock, and a cigar? I have just left the Opera, and I am a little exhausted with the wonder of it. Your new prima donna is marvellous.”

Grant rang for the waiter.

“What on earth have you come to see me about, Blunn?” he asked.

“My dear fellow, what a question!” the other replied, looking round the room and finally selecting his chair. “Enemies always visit one another. It lends spice to combat. Now the one of us with the keener brain will leave this interview the gainer. Which of us will it be, I wonder? A most interesting speculation. By the bye, might I suggest a little ice with the whiskey and White Rock?” Grant gave the order. He was in the frame of mind to welcome the presence even of Mr. Blunn.

“After you: magnificent banquet in Monte Carlo my last evening there,” he observed, “I think that you are making very slight demands upon my hospitality.” “I shall make larger ones upon your patience, perhaps,” Blunn declared. “You’re not looking well, Mr. Slattery. This rushing around from one big city to another, these alarmists’ conclaves in Washington, do not agree with you so well as the sunshine of the Riviera.”

“You seem pretty well informed as to my movements.”

“Naturally. We do not keep a large and expensive Secret Service going here for nothing. I could give you a most faithful record of your movements on every day since your arrival, starting with your visit to your friend Stoneham of the ‘New York,’ your luncheon at the Club and your subsequent visit to the Hotel des Ambassadeurs and winding up with the telephone message which called you to Washington.”

“Wonderful!” Grant murmured^ affecting unconcern, but, in reality a little staggered. “Here’s your whiskey and White Rock,” he added, as the waiter entered. “Will you help yourself?”

MR. BLUNN prepared his highball with care, lit his cigar and leaned back in his chair.

“I am thankful,” he confessed, “that

prohibition in this country was before my time. It did some good, they tell me. Swept away the saloons and kept the alcoholic strength of spirits down. On the whole, however, it must have been very uncomfortable.”

“The statute was modified almost out of existence, before I took an interest in such things,” Grant remarked.

Blunn was silent for a moment or two. He had completely the air of a man steeped in the atmosphere of the music he has enjoyed and dropping in for some slight refreshment with a friend.

Mr. Slattery,” he said, a little abruptly, “one of the objects of my visit is to congratulate you upon your failure.”

“My failure?” Grant repeated.

“Precisely. At Monte Carlo you scored a daring and well deserved victory. There were a dozen ways by which we could have outwitted you, but luck was on your side. You brought off one of the crudest pieces of amateur, melodramatic brigandage I ever remember to have read of in the pages of your most flamboyant novelists. Still, you brought it off. You scored the trick. Dazzled a little, shall we say, by success, you start off now to attempt the impossible. Here, my young friend, you are, in plain parlance, up against a hopeless proposition. You want to drive home to the statesmen and people of the United States the fact that a certain combination of forces, with Germany, of course, as the villain of the play, is planning a warlike enterprise of some sort or another against this country in revenge for their intervention in nineteen-seventeen. You cannot do it.”

“Can’t I?” Grant murmured.

Cornelius Blunn smiled. Very reluctantly he knocked the ash from his cigar.

“Well, ask yourself how far you have succeeded at present,” he went on. “You have had every possible advantage. You have visited Washington as a persona grata, you have talked with officials and statesmen to whom you are personally well known, and whom your high character and reputation must influence largely in your favor. You had a very pleasant time socially, everybody was very nice to you. How much progress did you make?”

“Go on, please.”

“You have since visited most of the principal cities in the States. You have interviewed a great many newspaper proprietors. You have given four lectures. The only place where you really created an impression was in Boston and there

the ground «was already prepared for you. I do not think that I am far from the mark when I offer you my congratulations upon your failure.”

“But why congratulations?” Grant asked. “Why not sympathy?”

Mr. Blunn pinched his cigar and smiled thoughtfully.

“If you had been a real danger to us,” he confided, “we should have had to take

steps—very regretful steps. You can scarcely imagine that a completely organized Secret Service of whose existence I have just given you proof, can be without agents who are prepared to go to any lengths which necessity might demand.” “You mean that you would have had me assassinated?”

Blunn shrugged his shoulders.

“We should have tried to avoid melodrama. You would probably have met with an accident.”

“This is very interesting,” Grant admitted. “I am alive on sufferance, then?”

“Don’t put it like that, I beg you.” “Supposing I became dangerous?” “Why conjure up these disagreeable possibilities?” Cornelius Blunn expostulated. “I do not see any immediate prospect of your becoming dangerous. You have no organization, no definite propaganda, no real evidence of the things which you fear. For your information I may tell you this. Short of an absolute upheaval, there is not the slightest doubt but that the Senate will refuse their sanction to the President to accept this invitation of the Pact of Nations.”

“Why are you so anxious that America should not join the Pact?” Grant asked. Mr. Blunn smiled.

“If you knew that,” he announced, “then perhaps we should have to label you dangerous, which, as I have previously explained, would not be good for your health. . . .Now, my young friend, we have had a pleasant talk. Shall I tell you what I really came to see you about?” Grant glanced at the clock. It was long past midnight.

“Perhaps it would be as well.”

“I came,” Blunn said, “to ask whether you can give me any information as to the whereabouts of my friend von Diss’s wife.”

“I have not the slightest idea as to her whereabouts,” Grant assured him coolly. “In any case, why come to me?”

“'TpHERE is an impression upon the 1 Riviera aßd elsewhere that the Princess left Monaco on your yacht.” “The impression is ridiculous,” Grant declared.

“Is it?” Blunn murmured. “Well, well!

The Princess—”

Grant stopped him with an imperative gesture.

“Do you mind leaving the Princess out of this conversation?” he interrupted. “I do not care, at any time, about discussing women. The Princess is an old friend of mine, a new friend of yours. Some other subject of conversation, if you please, or I shall be forced to remind you that the hour is late.”

“Quite a sound attitude,” Mr. Blunn remarked reflectively. “Still you might remember that I am her husband s oldest friend, and domestic relations in Germany are treated, I think, a little more sacredly than in most countries. I might even go so far as to say that 1 represent the Prince.”

“As the Prince’s representative,” Grant retorted, “there is the door. To Mr. Cornelius Blunn, my enemy, I know, but whose conversation and sense of humor attract me, I would suggest another whiskey and White Rock.”

Blunn helped himself sparingly and rose to his feet. He knew his man, and the ostensible object of his visit remained unfulfilled.

“Apropos of our former subject of conversation, Mr. Slattery,” he said, “take my advice. Don’t become too prominent in your propaganda, and, above all, don’t be too inquisitive. There are some things which you would give a great deal to discover, but of which, discovery would mean death. You are a young man and reasonably fond of living, I am sure.”

“Not only that,” Grant replied, “but I mean to live until my work is done.” Mr. Blunn finished his highball slowly and thoughtfully. Then he rose, put on his hat, and hung his overcoat over his arm.

“A very pleasant chat, Mr. Slattery, he concluded. “I like you, you know. You are a young man of imagination and spirit. I wish that you were a German. Grant held open the door.

“If you had been endowed with a conscience at your birth, you wouldn’t have made a bad American,” he reciprocated.

CHAPTER V.

/CORNELIUS BLUNN had in no wise ^ exaggerated the mighty juggernaut of propaganda which had already been set in movement in every city and in every State. Its extent and the magnitude of its operations were almost inconceivable. There was scarcely a magazine or review published which did not contain an article by some brilliant writer, preaching the doctrine of American independence and self-determination. A small army of lecturers were at work upon the same theme. There were letters to the newspapers, public nu-ei ings, and a vast distribution of free literature. Stoneham. who had been taking a brie) vacation, was l.rou'-aeg to New York by an urgen* cable >mn his friend. They discussed” the -if.cuion, dining at a famous Club, on the eight of his return.

'T am wich you. Grant, you know that." trie newspaper man said, "both from conviction and as a pal. But you’re up against a simply absurd proposition. Plenty of us over here know that for twenty years Germany has been preparing for this sort of thing. She has a perfect machinery of propaganda which only needed a touch of the finger to set it going. Blunn has set his hand upon it. Look at the result. There is scarcely a magazine of repute into which they haven’t bought their way. They have their own newspapers and they are hanging on to the fringe of a good many others. They’re well in with the Reviews, they have a strong hold in the colleges, the bookstalls are flooded with their practically free literature. On the_ other side there are a fair number of thinking people who would advocate America’s joining the Pact. But there is no organization, nothing to bring them together, no means of spreading their opinions. You’ve done as much as one roan could do. Five thousand of you might have made a little headway. As it is, Cornelius Blunn and his friends are absolutely convincing the great majority of the inhabitants of the United States that America will sacrifice her independence if she accepts this Pact, that Great Britain is jealous of America’s supremacy in commerce and finance, and that this invitation is merely a trap. People can’t help believing a thing they are always being told. That is the first principle of successful propaganda.”

“T KNOW, Dan,” Grant acknowledged.

1 “But we’re not going to knuckle under without a fight. We are late starters hut fortunately I’ve got a few millions to spare. I want you to look round and collect as many young writers and lecturers as you can who are inclined to come in on our side. Take those who agree with us from conviction where possible, but pay them well. We may be late starters, but remember this thing won’t be voted on finally for two or three months to come yet. I was talking on the ’phone with Entwistle at Washington only this afternoon. It’s a complicated procedure and, after all, you know, we have something on our side. The President and most of his entourage are with us. That must count for something.”

“There are drawbacks to democracy,” Stoneham sighed. “Also a ridiculous side to it. The German confectioner in the next street has exactly as much voting weight on this or any other matter as a Harvard professor who has made a study of European politics and probably visited every capital. Decision by votes is always bound to have its fallacies. Look at prohibition, for instance, imposed upon the people of America against their wish, by votes. I’m not. at all sure that in a thousand years’ time absolute Monarchy won’t be recognized a the only sane form of government."

“In the meantime," Grant suggested, “let’s get busy. I’ll open an account for you to-morrow at any Bank you fancy Put yourself down for any salary you like and pay for contributions just, what you think they’re worth. Scour round the city for the young men who cari write what we wantlecturers, magazine writers. We may be late starters, Dan, but we’ve a great gospel to preach. We’ve logic on our side, too. America was the first of the nations of the world to propose a reduction of armaments and to strip herself of the means of offensive warfare, just at, the time when she, better than any other in the world was able to afford it. She is still the leading

spirit in the Limitation of Armaments. Why, then, should she remain outside the Pact? She lays herself open to

conspiracies galore. She refuses the protection of the Pact and accepts the restrictions which her own generosity imposed upon her. And, Dan, let them rub it in. Let them ask where all this stream of literature on the other side is coming from. Tell them straight it’s '-•omitíg from Germany. Ask them if they think Germany has forgotten. . . .”

TpHEY made many plans and Grant i. succeeded in awakening a measure of enthusiasm in his companion. On their way out they met an acquaintance, laughing over a cartoon in a weekly newspaper. He held it up for them to see. There was a little circle of diners, Lord Yeovil in the middle, and before him one miserable chicken, on which the eyes of the sixteen seated around the table were fixed hungrily. A short distance away the allegorical Jonathan was seated alone at a table with a magnificent turkey in front of him. Lord Yeovil, risen to his feet, was addressing an almost plaintive invitation.

“Won’t you come across and join us, Brother Jonathan, and bring the bird?”

“Propaganda,” Stoneham murmured. “It’s damned clever, too. That sort of thing impresses.”

On their way up town they passed a procession. They stopped for a while to see it go by. There was a long line of youths marching in fours, dressed in the uniform of boy scouts, with several bands playing. They carried banners, on most of which was inscribed the same or a similar message:

“Europe and Europe’s Troubles for Europe”

“America and America’s Prosperity for America”

“I know that Association,” Stoneham remarked. “They call themselves the ‘National Scouts of Free America.’ They have free uniforms, free bands, about six excursions into the country in the year, also free, and the treasurer to the fund which keeps them going is a Mr. Hans Klein. More propaganda!”

“Oh, our enemies are thorough enough,” Grant agreed bitterly. “They take their disciples from the cradle, and rub it all in with the alphabet. And yet, you know, carefully though they were prepared for it, although they chose their own time, had every advantage science and preordination could give them, they lost the Great War. Their detail was wonderful enough, but you can’t win on detail alone. I’m optimist enough, Dan, to believe that, as these people failed once before, so they will fail again, and for the same reason.” “You’re rather inspiring to-night,” Stoneham confessed. “Expound!”

“I do not believe in the ultimate success of any cause,” Grant continued earnestly, “which is utterly devoid of spirituality. The Germans started out in nineteen-fourteen with every advantage but with a boldly proclaimed battle cry of material gain. They were opposed by a nation, fighting for their own land and women kind, and there is no cause which can provoke a greater spirituality. They were opposed too by the British, fighting with no shred of self-interest, with no possible hope of aggrandisement, fighting to redeem their word to Belgium, and fighting against the principles which threatened the very foundations of civilization. Then we came in. It took us a long time, but it was very far from being our quarrel. Anyhow we came in. And Germany who started with every advantage, lost. I know as certainly as we walk here side by side, Dan, that Germany means to go to war again, partly a war of vengeance, partly a war of aggrandisement. Well, I think that we shall stop her. There’s no soul to her cause. Nothing can flourish or live without a touch of the spirit.”

"It. isn’t, argument, Grant,” Stoneham observed, “but I see your point. To a certain extent it’s convincing.”

“Argument is riot the infallible solution of any subject,” Grant persisted, “any more than the brain is the only adjudicator. Take the hereafter, for instance. We all have a feeling that something of the sort exists. But argument with a non-believer would be impossible. We set too much store by our brains ”

THEY had emerged into Broadway, with its medley of blazing lights, its throng of people, its indefinable but ever existent fascination. Grant stopped short, and pulled his companion up as they watched a couple descend from an automobile and cross the pavement towards a famous supper place.

“Some one you know?” Stoneham enquired.

His companion nodded.

“Slightly. The man was at Monte Carlo, in attendance upon the Japanese Ambassador. Itash, his name is. The girl was one of the dancers at the Cafe de Paris. That’s rather a coincidence seeing them here.”

“Why?”

“Because,” Grant explained, “I very nearly got hold of some wonderful information from the young woman, who used to be the sweetheart of Itash before he took up with this girl. How she got it from him I don’t know, but she got it. She was half mad with jealousy and she sent for me. By the time I got there, though, Itash had made it up with her, and she would tell me nothing. Now—if one could only get hold of her, now, there might be something doing.”

Stoneham shrugged his shoulders.

“A Japanese diplomatist,” he said, “even the youngsters, are not noted for their ingenuousness. I can’t imagine that young man, Itash,. as you call him, giving much away.”

“Neither can I,” Grant agreed, “but she was very positive, and she did tell me one or two things.”

“Then if I were you,” Stoneham suggested, “I should get into touch with her as quickly as possible. Send her a cable and tell her what’s going on. She wouldn’t be the first jealous woman who’s saved or lost an empire. . .”

THEY passed away from Broadway again and reached Grant’s hotel. They sat in the sitting-room, discussing plans till the small hours of the morning. Just as they were separating Stoneham put his arm round the other’s shoulder.

“Grant, old fellow,” he said, “I am with you right through this business. But there’s just one thing I want to tell you before you go too far. We’re on a loser. America will decide against the Pact. I saw a first forecast of the voting yesterday. The majority for rejecting the invitation was more than two to one.”

“I should put it down as even less favorable than that,” Grant replied. “And still I don’t despair. I’ve a few more irons in the fire, Stoneham, than I’ve had time to tell you about yet. I’ve a capital fellow out in Japan, going on with the work I began. The British Police Patrols are on the scent of something there, and I paid rather an interesting visit to Archangel a few months ago. I’m not relying on our propaganda alone, Dan. Before that vote is taken in the Senate, I’m hoping to launch a thunderbolt or two from very unsuspected places. We’ve got to have the propaganda going, but don’t you be surprised, old fellow, if, at any moment, I find you a new sort of fuel.”

“We can do with it,” his friend assured him. “These things that you are talking about concern chiefly the Limitation of Armaments Congress. I’m afraid a few surreptitous ships here and there, won’t have much effect on public opinion.” Grant smiled.

“You wait till the first of my thunderbolts comes to hand,” he enjoined.

CHAPTER VI.

GRANT met Cornelius Blunn on Fifth Avenue one morning a week or so later—Cornelius Blunn resplendent in a light grey suit, with a waistcoat cut very low, a carefully arranged white tie, white spats, and a white Homburg hat. He had the air of a man pleased with his appearance.

“Well, my young friend,” he exclaimed, stopping Grant. “How goes it?”

“I think you’re winning,” was the frank reply.

“That’s a sure thing,” Blunn declared. “I mean, how do you amuse yourself?” “Indifferently,” Grant confessed. “Your accursed organizations are getting on my nerves.”

“To tell you the truth, you’re getting on mine a little,” Blunn confided. “You know, I’m not thin-skinned, but you’ve been getting a trifle savage lately. I should very much dislike anything to

happen to you, but it has been suggested to me once or twice that New York would be a healthier place without you.” “The old threat,” Grant rejoined lightly. “By the bye, why shouldn’t two play at that game? I look upon you as one of the greatest enemies to the world’s peace at present existing. Why shouldn’t I kill you?”

“Too risky, my young friend. You’re not in touch with the criminal organization of this city, and to attempt anything of the sort yourself would be madness.”

“I’m not so sure about the madness,” Grant replied. “I think that I could prove justifiable homicide.”

Blunn smiled.

“That’s just your trouble,” he expostulated. “You can’t prove anything. You’ve got some very sound ideas in your head. You’ve insight all right. You can trace the natural sequence of events. But the trouble is you’re short of facts.” “Perhaps I am,” Grant acknowledged. “Perhaps I know a little more than you imagine.”

Blunn looked thoughtfully along the crowded pavement.

“I should hate very much to think that you did,” he said. “It would leave me only one alternative.”

“I wonder,” Grant meditated, “how much you understand of the science of bluff.”

“Nothing,” was the emphatic reply. “I have always treated you with the utmost candor. I tell you everything that may be for your good. Now I’ll tell you another thing which you probably do not know because for some reason or other it has been kept rather secret. I only knew myself a few hours ago. The next meeting of the nations subscribing to the Limitation of Armaments has been fixed for about five weeks ahead. That will be before a final decision can be arrived at with reference to the matter in which we are interested.”

“In Washington?” Grant demanded. “In Washington.”

“Lord Yeovil will be present?” “Naturally. You will have an opportunity of telling him of the progress you have made. Our friends over here will arrange to finish the meetings of the Limitation of Armaments and bid their guests farewell before the news of their adverse decision with reference to the Pact is known.”

“You are really a very interesting fellow to meet,” Grant admitted. “You are always full of information.”

“We must see more of one another,” Blunn murmured. “Meanwhile—”

THEY saluted with great politeness and passed on. Grant was obsessed with only one thought. Lord Yeovil might be out at any time within the next month and probably Susan. He had written to her once or twice and received no reply. He suddenly swung round, and caught up with Blunn again.

“May I ask you a question?” he begged.

“Why, my dear fellow, of course,” was the immediate response.

“You have alluded to a ridiculous rumor that the Princess von Diss accompanied me on my yacht when I left Monaco. Was that rumor—prevalent?” “From one end of the Riviera to the other. There was scarcely any one who did not believe it.”

“Thank you,” Grant muttered. . . . He strode off ..furious with the malicious turn of fate, which Blunn’s news had brought into the forefront of his mind. Of what benefit to him was Susan’s coming? What joy would he find in seeing her? Probably by this time she had cast him out from her thoughts— an adventurer, one of those most hopeless of all people in the world to deal with— a man with the spirit of a boulevardier, a poseur in love as in life. He walked rapidly away and back to his hotel. There was a letter to be written that night -a letter which it would cost him a great, deal to write, a letter which from any point of view must mean an accusation against himself. He ascended to his rooms full of his purpose. As he entered the salon, however, he stopped short. The person who had been in his thoughts for days was seated there, smoking a cigarette and, apparently, waiting for his return. A pile of magazines was strewn before her, the pages of which she was turning over listlessly. At Continued on page ¡¡ti

The Wrath to Come

Continued from page 32

Grant’s entrance she pushed them all away from her with an air of relief. She looked across at him sombrely, yet gladly. There was not a flicker of emotion, not an effort at coquetry. She was just now as she was when they had fought their little duel once before, silent, imperturbable, a trifle contemptuous. “Mademoiselle Cleo!” he exclaimed. “Monsieur,” she replied. “You have been a long time coming.”

“Not so long, Mademoiselle,” he replied promptly, “as you have been in keeping your word.”

She rose to her feet. More than ever there seemed to be feline suggestions about the way she looked and stretched herself.

“Be so kind,” she begged, “as to order me some tea and some more cigarettes. I think—I am almost sure—that I have made up my mind to tell you the things you desire to know.”

Grant rang the bell and gave the waiter an order. Then he pulled up an easy chair for her and seated himself opposite.

“Did you come with Itash or did you follow him?” he asked simply.

“I followed him,” she acknowledged. “What I was told I could not believe. Last night I saw with my own eyes. He has brought Yvonne here, brought her to New York. He, who had promised me a hundred times—but that makes no matter.”

“Did you come alone?”

“I came alone. It was an evil day for Itash when I came.”

CHAPTER VII.

CORNELIUS BLUNN was a guest such as hotel proprietors dream of and very seldom have a chance to entertain. His demands were always on a magnificent scale and no spendthrift prince in the days when there were such beings could have shown less disposition to haggle. At the Great Central Hotel in New York he had a suite of five or six rooms, the most simple of which was his own bed-chamber. Blunn’s sitting-room, too, was simple—an apartment with a great writing-table, a special telephone and very little else in the way of furniture. The chair occupied by his visitors was a comfortable one enough, but it faced the north light. Even Itash blinked behind his spectacles as he subsided into its depths.

“You have news, my young friend?” Blunn enquired of his caller.

“There is very little,” the latter answered, speaking with his usual deliberation. “Four more names have been sent in from our headquarters at San Francisco. They are all vouched for. They all desire places of responsibility. One of them, a fruit grower in California, is well-known to me. His father was in the service of our family.”

Cornelius Blunn nodded.

“Good,” he said. “You have places for them?”

“For the first three,” Itash replied. “The man 1 spoke of last, 1 have sent for. I propose to take him into the intelligence.”

“You have no other news?”

“There is no other news. May I smoke?”

BLUNN nodded his permission. He sat back in his chair apparently studying lí is visitor. Itash was by no means a pleasant personality. The strength of his face lay rather in its cunning than any other quality. His mouth was cruel. His eyes, as bright as beads, too shifty. His complexion was yellow even for an Oriental. His black

hair reeked of the productions of the barber’s shop. The handkerchief which he had been holding in his hand seemed steeped with some powerful scent. The cigarette which he presently began to smoke had a pungent and almost sickly odor.

“Count Itash,” Blunn said at last, “you are a very clever young man of the Oriental school, but you have one fault. You are too fond of women.”

Itash removed his cigarette from his mouth. He seemed a little uncertain how to take the other’s speech. In the end he grinned.

“In your country,” he retorted,, “it is wine and beer, and food. In' mine it is flowers and women.”

“You may dabble in horticulture as much as you choose,” Blunn observed drily, “but women are dangerous.”

“I have learnt to manage them,” the young man declared.

“So far as your personal comfort is concerned, no doubt that is so,” Blunn acknowledged, “but you must remember that, to me, and many others, you do not exist as a young scion of the Japanese nobility who desires to achieve success as a diplomatist and walk meanwhile in the flowery ways. You are something more vital. You are a part depository of the greatest secret the world has ever known. Itash, if a single bead of the truth has sweated out of your carcass, you shall be looking for your own particular corner in hell before the moon changes.”

BLUNN struck the table in front of him, not heavily, but with a sharp menacing tap. There were lines in his face now which few people ever saw. His cheeks seemed to have sagged a little, his eyes sunken. His lips had parted, and one of his teeth, always a slight disfigurement, had, for a moment, the appearance of a fang. Itash dropped his cigarette. The sudden attack had paralysed him. He looked like a person stricken through fear into idiocy.

“Pick that up,” Blunn directed, “and speak the truth, or nothing that I have ever threatened you with will count by the side of the things which shall surely happen. What have you told Cleo, the dancing girl of Monte Carlo?”

“Nothing, upon the tomb of my fathers!” the young man swore.

He picked up the cigarette.. Blunn’s questioning eyes still held him.

“Upon the great matters,” he went on, “I have never spoken in my life with any human being, and as to women—they are my toys. I have never treated one seriously. It is not our way in Japan. There is not one of them who knows a thought that is in my brain, a feeling that comes from the heart. Not one, not one!”

“You know that this dancing girl has followed you to New York?” Blunn demanded.

“What has that to do with the matters that count?” Itash enquired wonderingly. “She has been the companion of my idle moments, she has never asked a question, she is like the others, a being for the dance, the wine, an hour or so of love. I tire of her and I take another companion. Sometimes you change wine for beer, is it not so? She is a foolish being and my notice has been pleasant to her. She is jealous—women are made like that. What does it matter?”

“I hear your words,” Cornelius Blunn said. “Now listen to this, Itash, and tell me what you make of it with your Oriental wisdom. This dancing girl has followed you from Monte Carlo to New York. Two nights ago she visited Grant Continued on page 50

Continued from page 1*8 Slattery, was in his rooms for two hours. What do you make of that?”

“It is her profession,” Itash sneered. “You think so? That is the Oriental kink in you,” Blunn declared. “A man like Grant Slattery doesn’t amuse himself with the cast-off mistresses of such as you. Now listen! Of your wisdom answer me this. Why, on the morning after her visit, did Grant Slattery himself interview the managers of the three great steel companies with whom Japan has dealt in this country?”

ITASH’S face expressed only bewilderment. He seemed utterly unable to read the riddle of Blunn’s words.

“I am foolish,” he confessed. “I cannot see what distresses you. I cannot understand what Oleo—”

Blunn pulled him up. He was convinced that the young man was at least a harmless agent of his own undoing.

“Listen,” he interrupted. “You are one of the few persons in a position to call the attention of people whom it might concern to the fact that Japan, during the last three years, has purchased more steel in the United States than would build her six battleships allowed her by the Limitation of Armaments twice over and relay every line of railway she has in Japan. Cleo, your sweetheart, comes to see Grant Slattery, and Grant Slattery interviews representatives of these three steel companies the very next morning.”

“XjEVER have I opened my lips to IN Cleo upon any such subject in my life,” the young man asserted fervently. “She knows nothing. She can know nothing.”

“Humph!” Blunn grunted. “The puzzle remains then. But I do not understand it. I am uneasy—it is one of the most unfortunate things which could have happened that this annual meeting of the Limitation of Armaments should be fixed for a date just before the question of joining the Pact comes up in the Senate. We keep our secrets well—we, who understand these things—but there are other matters besides the secrets of your country’s warships which are there to be discovered, if the fortune went against us. A scare at the Conference might undo all our great work.”

“There will be no scare,” Itash declared. “Our extra battleships are hidden. No one knows that each one has a sister-ship.”

“There remains that visit,” Blunn muttered. “I shall brood over it until I have some explanation. ... I am not happy about you and your hobbies, Itash. Women are best left out of the game. I had rather you collected butterflies.”

“I should be as likely to tell the butterflies my secrets,” the young man scoffed. “You should know that we do not treat our womenkind as you do. They are the marionettes who dance for our pleasure. To treat them seriously would spoil our joy of them.”

Cornelius Blunn seemed to be slowly coming back to himself again. His tone was almost good-humored.

“Listen,” he said. “You sup every night with your little lady from the Cafe de Paris at the Folies Bergeres, is it not so?”

Itash was a little startled.

“I am usually there,” he admitted. “To-night,” Blunn announced, “I am your host. I remember the young lady.

I have danced with her myself. I will dance with her to-night, whilst you look on and are sulky. You need not be afraid,” he went on. “I have no designs on your belongings. It pleases me to spend an hour or so with you Loth. . . . At midnight, at the Folies Bergeres! You have always tire corner table on the right, have you not?” K“'*'

“i have never seen you there,” Itash remarked suspiciously, as, in obedience to the other’s gesture of dismissal, he rose to his feet.

“I have never been there,” Blunn acknowledged. “But I know most things that go on in New York.”

CHAPTER VIII.

THE supper party that night at the Folies Bergeres was unexpectedly gay, although, in one respect, the arrangements made by Itash miscarried. Mademoiselle Yvonne had found a friend, a

Belgian young lady, who had attained some celebrity in the music halls as Mathilde Leroy, and some notoriety in the Press, owing to the number of her admirers and the eccentricity of her toilettes. Itash, who preferred to retain his own dancing companion, invited Mademoiselle Mathilde to make a partie carree. But though Cornelius Blunn was graciousness itself and the hilarity of the little party was chiefly owing to his efforts, he evinced a partiality for Mademoiselle Yvonne which was somewhat disconcerting for her escort, and most disappointing for Mademoiselle Mathilde.

“You will make him jealous, my poor Itash,” Yvonne declared laughing, as for the third time following, she suffered Blunn to lead her amongst the dancers. “He likes so to dance with me, the poor boy. Mathilde wearies him, for she talks of nothing but her jewels, and her gowns and her need of money.”

“He dances well, at any rate,” Blunn remarked, watching Itash and Mathilde. Yvonne was looking into her gold mirror, with a little powder puff poised between her fingers.

“He dances well, but like a monkey,” she declared, without looking away “He is what I call a gymnast. He does not make you feel the joy of it.”

She suddenly pushed on one side her vanity case. She leaned across towards him, all the coquetry of her nature shone out of her eyes, lured him from her curving lips.

“Ah, Monsieur,” she said, “you make me speak unkindly but I think that you make me love you. Shall I? Would you have me love you?”

“Mademoiselle, it would only be fair,” he replied. “For you I adore.”

“It is true?” she whispered, leaning a little closer. “You assure me that, it is true?”

He smiled at her. Then he patted her hand.

“Mademoiselle Yvonne,” he declared, “I am going to make you happy. I have a little surprise for you—if you will do me the honor of accepting it—a little present.”

“Monsieur!” she exclaimed.

She shook with eagerness. A present! The most appealing word in the language to one of her order.

“I am faced with a problem,” he explained, “which I think that you can solve. If you can I shall beg your acceptance of this trifle. If you cannot —well, I shall ask you to accept it all the same.”

SHE looked at the morocco case which he held in the hollow of his hand, saw the lid fly open, and gave a gasp of delight. She was a good judge of jewellery, and diamonds set in platinum appealed to her.

“But it is magnificent!” she cried.

THIS is my question, Yvonne,” Cornelius Blunn went on simply. “By some means or other Itash, who I believe is an honorable man, has betrayed to Mademoiselle Cleo, the young lady whom you supplanted, a secret of great importance. I do not believe that he wilfully communicated it to her. I do not believe that he has ever committed a word to writing. Yet she knows. Now, can you, dear little friend, give me any idea how this has come to pass?”

For a moment Yvonne looked utterly blank. She seemed genuinely perplexed. She began to shake her head. And then a sudden light flashed across her face. She threw herself back in her chair and laughed for a moment heartily. She laid her hand on Mr. Blunn’s shoulder. She drew his head down to hers.

“Mon Dien!” she whispered. “It is easy. 1 have heard strange things myself, to which I have paid no attention. He alks in his sleep—talks—talks—ah, how he talks—sometimes all through the night! ...”

The little case was in her fingers. She dropped it into her bag. Cornelius Blunn sat by her side, grim and silent, a veritable Nebuchadnezzar, brooding over the terrible writing. Thirty years of his own toil, thirty years of a nation’s agony, a stealthy creeping forward through the ages, the brains of two greedy empires concentrated upon one end, building and toiling and planning—these things were all imperiled, because a dancing girl had known jealousy!

Continued on page 52

Continued from page 5ó CHAPTER IX.

CTONEHAM returned from a lecturing

0 tour in the West, dispirited, and with a frank confession of failure. He presented himself at Grant’s rooms just as the latter was finishing breakfast.

“I’ve bad news, old chap,” he declared at once. “I’ve done my best, and I guess I’ve made about as much impression upon my audiences as if Pussyfoot Johnson had come back to life and were preaching prohibition once more. They won’t have it at any price.”

Grant pushed a box of cigars across the table and rang for a waiter to remove his tray.

“ ‘America outside’ still their motto, eh?” he observed, as he drew a chair up to the open window.

“You see,” Stoneham went on, “they’ve never forgotten what a triumph it was for American diplomacy that our people, in those days, refused all invitations to join the Genoa Conference. We scored immensely all round by remaining outside, and you know what a general muddle up that affair ended in. The fact of it is,” he continued, selecting and lighting his cigar, “our people over here have never regained their faith in British diplomacy since those days. They can’t see that they stand to be hurt in any way by remaining outside, and they can see that they might be drawn into a lot of trouble if they got involved in some of these economic disputes. We make our own rules now and play our own game, and we’re the richest country in the world. It’s a pretty hard situation to shake, Grant.”

Grant was less perturbed than his companion had imagined possible.

“I’ve talked with Cornelius Blunn, since you’ve been away,” he announced. “I’ve heard the same story from him. I believe he’s right. I believe you’re right.

1 believe that if the matter were to be decided upon to-day, the invitation to join the Pact would be rejected by an overwhelming majority. Fortunately, the meeting of the Limitation of Armaments is to come first.”

“Sure, but what difference does that make?” Stoneham enquired.

“It’s going to make all the difference,” Grant assured him. “I’m on the track of things, already, and the Conference doesn’t take place for another month.”

“Am I to be wise to this?”

“You are. But we’ve got to move warily. Blunn can afford to be goodnatured about our fight against him so far as it has gone. He knows very well that his propaganda department is in perfect order. He can practically count his votes. He knows that on a fight as things are at present, we haven’t a chance. The moment he realizes that we are getting round his flanks, though, he’ll be dangerous. Dan, you remember my telling you about Cleo, the little dancing girl, who used to go about with Count Itash.”

“Quite well.”

“Well, Itash has brought the other girl over here. Cleo has followed, and Cleo paid me a visit the day before yesterday. She gave me a hint and I verified it. She is coming here again this morning.”

DO YOU trust her?” Stoneham asked doubtfully. . “Do you think it really likely that a man like Itash would have told her secrets?”

“Of course he wouldn’t,” Grant agreed. “But this is the point. Itash has a habit of which he is ignorant. He talks in his sleep. Cleo admits that she thought nothing of it, at first—that she did not even listen. Then, some of the things he said struck her as being strange. Finally she understood. He was worrying over a failure of his to keep secret two great contracts for steel given last year and the year before. I followed this up. It happened to be rather in my line. What about this for a bombshell, Dan? Japan bought steel plates enough in Germany during the last two years to build every scrap of naval armament to which she was entitled. She also bought from different firms in America, some in the name of China, and some in her own name, three times the same quantity of steel, all of which was shipped.”

“But, say, how could she get away with a thing like that?” Stoneham asked incredulously.

“Largely bluff. The steel plates from

Germany she declared faulty and announced her intention of using them for factory construction. Germany, with unusual complacency, actually admitted at the last meeting of the Limitation of Armaments, that the plates were unfit for battleships, and, nominally, received a large compensation. This is the first little hint Mademoiselle Cleo has given me, Dan, and by the time I get my dispatches in from Japan—I have a good man out there, thank God—I think I shall be able to give the Limitation of Armaments Conference a shock. Cleo has a few other little matters to tell me about, too.”

“Say, this is great!” Stoneham exclaimed. “Pity you couldn’t have got her to make a complete disclosure while she was about it.”

“I did my best,” Grant assured him. “I offered her everything in the .world except my hand and fortune, and I don’t think she’d have accepted those. She’s simply crazy over this fellow Itash. She’s going slowly in case he relents.”

STONEHAM, with a start, sat upright in his chair. A sudden recollection had flashed into his brain.

“My God!” he cried. “Whatever have I been thinking about? What did you say her name was?”

“I’ve never heard her called anything but Mademoiselle Cleo. What about her? Don’t tell me anything’s happened already.”

Stoneham caught up one of the newspapers from the table and pointed to a paragraph on the first page.

“Haven’t you read that, man?” he demanded.

“Haven’t looked at a paper,” was the feverish reply. “I hadn’t finished my mail when you came in.”

He read the paragraph eagerly. It occupied only a short space but the headlines were thick and prominent—

ATTEMPTED MURDER

ON BROADWAY

Famous French Danseuse Shot by a Rival

At a few minutes before two o’clock this morning, what seems to have been a deliberate attempt at murder took place on the corner of Broadway and Thirty-seventh Street. It appears that Count Itash, who is here on an official mission to the Embassy of his country at Washington, was leaving Mason’s Restaurant with Mademoiselle Yvonne, a well-known French dancer, when two shots were fired from amongst the crowd of passers-by. Mademoiselle Yvonne was slightly wounded but was able to return home in a taxicab. The assailant was distinctly seen by several of the passers-by, but managed to temporarily escape during the confusion. Her identity is known, however, and her arrest is momentarily expected. She is said to be known as Mademoiselle Cleo, of Monaco.

“Fool!” Grant exclaimed. “We are done, Dan. The police will have her, and if I know anything of Mr. Cornelius Blunn, she won’t see daylight again until it’s too late.”

His companion was thoughtful for a moment.

“I’m not sure,” he reflected, “that the best thing in the world for us won’t be to have her safely under arrest. Blunn’s gang can’t get at her in prison anyhow. And she can be seen there.”

“Blunn has a terrific pull with the police,” Grant reminded him.

Stoneham moved towards the telephone.

“I’ll ring up Police Headquarters and see if she’s been arrested,” he announced. “I know a man there who’ll look after this for us.”

His hand was already upon the telephone, when there was an imperative knock at the door. He glanced around. Grant rose to his feet. Before either of them could say a word, the door was thrown open and closed again. Cleo stood there, with her hack to it, holding tightly to the handle, panting for breath.

“They’re after me,” she cried. “There’s scarcely a minute. Ring up Itash. Quick! 1817 Plaza.”

Stoneham asked at once for the number.

“What do you want to say to Itash?” Grant demanded. “Tell me the rest Continued on page 5It

Continued from page 52 quickly. You’re French. Itash is in league with the Germans.”

“Bah!” she sobbed. “He could be in league with the devil if he would come back to me. Listen. I ask him. He shall hear what I know. Then he shall choose. He shall take me and my silence and leave her for ever, or I will kill her and I will tell you his secrets.”

“Is that 1817 Plaza?” Stoneham enquired.

“It is Count Itash, who speaks,” was the slow rejoinder.

“Mademoiselle Cleo is here in 940 Hotel Great Central, the apartment of Mr. Grant Slattery. She desires yo tc come.”

Cleo sprang across the room. She snatched the receiver into her own hand. She broke into a stream of incoherent French, rocking herself backwards and forwards all the time, as though distracted with pain.

“I heard you speak these things,” she cried. “I know the great secrets. I know what they would give me the price of a kingdom to have me tell. . . . Very well, then, very well. Come here, then, before the police can touch me. Come to me here. Give up Yvonne for ever, and there shall be a seal on my lips as though the finger of the Virgin rested there. I have never deceived you, I am always faithful. I am always true. I am racked with pain and jealousy, Itash. Take me back. I have spoken the word. It shall be as though her finger rested upon my lip.”

She threw down the receiver. She turned towards them with a smile of triumph upon her lips.

“He comes,” she announced. “Now we shall see!”

CHAPTER X.

THERE was a slow and somewhat ponderous knocking at the door. She turned towards it, breathless, expectant. Then suddenly she gave a little cry.

“It is too soon,” she exclaimed. “It must be those others. Protect me. For heaven’s sake don’t let them take me before Itash comes.”

The knocking was repeated and this time the door was instantly opened. There was no doubt about the character of the two men who entered—detective was written in every feature. One stood by the door. The other advanced a little into the room.

“Mr. Slattery, I believe,” he said. “Sorry to intrude upon you, sir, but I have a warrant for the arrest of that young woman. You’re Mademoiselle Cleo?” he went on.

“What do you want with me?” she demanded.

“I’ll have to take you to the Police Station, young lady,” was the brusque reply. “Charge of shooting with intent to murder. You’d better keep your mouth closed till you get to the Commissioner’s Office.”

She looked around her a little wildly. “Can’t you make them wait until Itash comes?” she begged of Grant. “He will, perhaps, arrange with them. I didn’t mean to hurt her. All that I want is Itash.”

“Say, young lady,” the detective interposed, “our orders are that you are not to talk. We’ve an automobile outside and if you’ll just allow me to run you over first for arms I-guess we can let you walk ahead of us and no fuss.”

They had already taken a step towards the door when it was suddenly opened. The second detective stood on one side. Itash walked in. He was looking very pale and solemn, but, as usual, neatly and correctly dressed. Cleo would have rushed towards him, but for the restraining hand upon her shoulder.

“Sammy!” she cried. “You see what they’re doing to me. They are taking me to prison. Tell them about it, Sammy. It was not really my fault. Send them away, please. Give them money. Tell them I am sorry. Anything. And tell me that it is finished with Yvonne. Take me away with you, Sammy.”

He looked at her without changing a muscle of his countenance. Then he

turned to the detective.

“Where are you taking her?” he enquired.

“To Police Headquarters,” the man replied. “And it’s about time we were off.”

“Do not let me detain you,” Itash said coldly. “Police Headquarters is a very good place indeed for that young lady. She was once a friend of mine, but she is so no longer. She tried to murder the young lady who was my companion last night. I have no wish to stand in the way of her punishment.”

Mademoiselle Cleo seemed to have become suddenly calm. Only her eyes burned as she looked towards Itash.

“It is thus you speak to me?” she moaned. “You have no pity. No longer any love.”

“It is finished,” he pronounced.

SHE beckoned to Slattery, who stepped quickly forward. The Inspector would have thrust his hand over her mouth but he was too late. She whispered for a moment in Grant’s ear. Then she turned to the detective.

“It pleases me to depart,” she replied haughtily. “Au revoir, Mr. Slattery. Come and see me in prison. There is more to be—”

The detective’s patience was at an end. His hand closed upon her lips. He pushed her from the room. In the hallway they heard her muffled laugh.

“Gentlemen,” Itash said, “I am sorry that you should have been troubled in this matter. I did not know that it was to the apartments of Mr. Grant Slattery that I was coming.”

“Mademoiselle Cleo is an acquaintance of mine from Monte Carlo,” Grant reminded him. “You doubtless remember our little supper-party there.”

“With much pleasure,” Itash assented. “Nevertheless, Mr. Slattery, a word of caution may not be out of place. The young lady is not altogether trustworthy. Her tempers are violent. She is not truthful. She is, indeed, dangerous.” “Then we are both well rid of her, Count,” Grant observed drily.

Itash made a dignified and leisurely exit. They heard the door close behind him, heard him pass down the corridor towards the lift.

“What did she whisper to you?” Stoneham asked.

“She was a trifle cryptic,” Grant replied. “She spoke in French. What she said was simply this—‘the secret of the world was to be found in two small volumes hidden in the box of gold, in number twelve hundred and eight.’ Box of gold! What the mischief was she driving at?”

There was a sudden change in Stoneham’s expression.

“Why, Grant,” he exclaimed, “haven’t you ever heard the story about Cornelius Blunn’s father?”

“I’ve heard one version of it,” Grant acknowledged. “Tell me yours.”

“You remember his history, of course He was a great friend of the Kaiser Wilhelm’s—one of the war party, one of those who really believed in Germany and her divine right to rule the world. The Treaty of Versailles broke his heart. On his deathbed he wrote a letter, which he placed in a gold casket which the Kaiser had once given him, containing the freedom of the city of Berlin. The idea always has been that that letter was a charge upon his son to see that some day or other Germany was avenged Cornelius Blunn carries that casket always with him. If there really does exist any document in the world, any secret Treaty or understanding between Germany and, say, Japan, having for its object a consummation of this injunction, why that’s the likeliest place in the whole world to find it.”

“What about the twelve hundred and eight?” Grant asked.

“That was what put me on the scent,” Stoneham replied. “Twelve hundred and eight is the number of Cornelius Blunn’s suite on the twelfth floor of this hotel.”

CHAPTER XI.

ITASH proceeded to pay his morning call upon the person whom the newspapers had christened “The Mid-European Napoleon of Modern Finance and Diplomacy.” He was passed through into the presence of the great man within a very few minutes. He entered, courteous, self-assured, dignified. He was reduced within a few seconds to a state of abject collapse. For years afterwards he remembered the horror of those moments. Cornelius Blunn’s opening words filled him with blank amazement, his final Continued on page 56

Continued from page 5J, ones stripped him of every shred of confidence and self-respect.

“I have been associated at different times,” the latter concluded, “with rogues and hucksters, thieces, liars and fools. I have never yet entrusted the destinies of a great nation to a man who cannot keep his mouth shut, even in his sleep.”

“But how could I tell?” the young man gasped. “How do I know even now that what you tell me is true?”

“Let me remind you of this,” Blunn went on. “We talked for hours one night in Monte Carlo on the matter of steel. With two companies over here we are all right. Over the third we have no control nor any influence. We discussed the possibility of this third company adding up the amount of your contracts with their two rivals—even leaving out the steel plates we sent you from Germany—and of presenting a report to the Limitation of Armaments Conference. You remember that conversation?”

“I remember it perfectly,” Itash groaned.

“You left me with your mind full of the subject. It was at the time when Mademoiselle Cleo was your fancy. Very well, the other day Mademoiselle calls upon our friend Grant Slattery, and the next morning he visits the representatives of each one of those steel firms. Can’t you see that trouble or suspicion at the Conference might upset everything we have done?”

“I know,” Itash muttered. “Still, they will not discover anything that counts in time. We have been very clever. We have four secret harbors, and two secret dockyards, besides the one in China. Each battleship we built was duplicated. The two were given the same name. We kept even the work people in ignorance. The flying ships are safe. They are up in Ulensk. Now I shall send a cable. The four battleships which have been launched must steam away northward. The four that are ready to be launched under the same name must take their place. Everybody will believe that it is the same ships returned. I am not afraid. There are American spies in Tokio, but our secret harbors have never been visited.”

“Go and send your cable and come back again,” Blunn directed. “Warn

your people that without a doubt investigations will be made. Let your fleet be manoeuvred in every way so as to confuse undesired onlookers. But remember, nothing must interfere with its final assembly. You know the date.” Itash smiled for the first time.

“On November the first,” he said, “we have the most complete and wonderful plan of movement. Units of the fleet will appear from all sorts of unexpected places. They have their final meeting place only five days’ steaming from San Francisco.”

Blunn nodded.

“Go and send your cables,” he ordered. “Then return here. I suppose you can rely upon your code?”

“My code is undecipherable to any human being except the person to whom it is addressed,” Itash declared. “It is based upon the ancient priests’ language of my country, two thousand years old, and untranslatable save by a Japanese scholar. That again is coded and has never left my person.”

lie opened his coat and waistcoat and showed a band around his underclothes. Blunn waved him away.

“Good!” he approved. “Be back within two hours. You will not sleep before then! . . .”

FOR a few moments after the departure of Itash, Cornelius Blunn sat motionless in his chair, his eyes fixed upon the calender which stood on his table. Finally he rose to his feet, opened the door and called to his secretary.

“Miss Herman,” he enjoined, "for half an hour I am engaged. You understand? Not even a telephone message.” “I understand perfectly, sir,” she replied. “It is as usual.”

She returned to her place. Blunn reentered his sitting-room, carefully locking the door behind him. The apartment, before the changes necessitated by his demands, had been an ordinary hotel sitting-room, with heavy plush furniture and curtains. There were two windows, across which he carefully drew the

curtains, until every scrap of daylight | was excluded. He then turned on the electric light and made his way to the ponderous safe, which looked as though it were built into the further wall. He undid his coat and waistcoat and released the chain which was wound around his body. At the end of it were two keys. With one, after a few minutes’ adjustment, he opened the safe. From underneath a pile of papers he drew out a curiously-shaped and heavy box fashioned of beaten gold. On the left-hand side of the lid were the arms of the city of Berlin. On the right the arms of the Hohenzollerns. In the middle was an inscription in German—

“To Cornelius Blunn, the faithful servant of his city and friend of his Kaiser,

Wilhelm.

N ineteen-thirteen. ’ ’

BLUNN closed the door of the safe and returned to his place at the desk, carrying the box with him. He lit the electric lamp which stood upon the table and, with the other key, unlocked the casket. Its contents were simple enough in appearance—two small morocco-bound volumes resembling diaries at the top and a few sheets of parchment on which were several great seals; underneath a letter, yellow with age, crumpled a little at the corners, and showing signs of a slight tear in one of the folds. With careful fingers Cornelius Blunn spread the latter out on the table before him. At either end he placed a small paperweight. Then he folded his hands and read its contents to himself in a very low undertone. From outside the roar of the city seemed muffled by the closely-drawn curtains. One thought of a dark and silent mosque in the middle of a sunlit Oriental city. Here was a man at his devotions—and this was what he read:

“My beloved son,

I write you this message from my deathbed with the last fragment of strength with which an inscrutable Providence has endowed me. I go before my work is accomplished, and, for that reason, a heavier burden must rest upon your shoulders. You will bear it worthily because of the purpose. My son, the chosen people of God were often called upon to face suffering—aye, and humiliation. But in the end they triumphed. Greatness will always survive, and the greatest thing upon this earth is the soul of the German people.

“ Have nothing to do, Cornelius, with those who would write her apologia. The empires of the world were built up with blood and sacrifice, and the knowledge of these things ivas in our hearts—we, who planned the war and believed that we should see Germany the ruling power of the world from Palestine to London. We struck too soon or too late. History may, perhaps, tell you. Next time the hour must be chosen so that failure is an impossible element.

“All that, shall happen in the. future and the way to our glorious goal has been discussed between us many a time. My charge upon you is this. Remember the maxims of those who made Germany. The man whom you forgive will never forgive yon. The man to whom you show a kindness will owe you a grudge for it. Hate your enemies in life, in death and after death. When the time comes, every man and woman of the United States, of America, of France, of England is you,r enemy. Never did the Philistines oppress and humiliate the children of Israel as these people have done the nation of His later choice. Slum no mercy. Strip them -those whom you leave alive—of wealth, women and honour. Let them feel the iron in their souls which that, accursed Treaty of Versailles has brought into the. souls of our own people. When Germany strikes again set1 that she climbs for ever to the highesI place amongst the peoples of the earth. By the sword Germany came into being, and by the sword she shall fight her way to the chosen places. Farewell, Cornelius, and remember my last words : NEVER SPARE

AN ' ENEMY OR MISUSE A FRIEND.

Cornelius B limn. ’ ’

THE sound of the man’s low voice ceased. Yet for several moments he sat quite still. A breath of wind, coming through the opened upper part of the

window, moved the curtains an inch or two, and a thin sharp shaft of sunlight fell like a glancing rod of gold across the table, resting for a minute upon his face. All that there was of coarseness, even the humanity of good-fellowship and humor, seemed to have vanished. Cornelius Blunn had become the prototype of his country, fashioned according to his father’s mandate of blood and iron. He might indeed have posed, in those few moments, for a statue of the great avenger. There was implacable hatred in every feature and line of his face, unforgiving, unmerciful. He was the incarnation of a real and living spirit...

The ceremony was over. With reverent fingers the letter was restored to its place at the bottom of the box. For a few minutes he pored over the portentous contents of the two morocco-bound volumes. FinallyJie returned everything to the box, carried it to the safe, re-set the latter’s combination, and carefully locked it. Then he turned out the lights, drew back the curtains, lit a cigar and unlocked the door.

“Business as usual, Miss Herman,” he said.

“Mr. Gurlenheim from the new London Steel Company is waiting to see you, sir,” she announced.

A shadow of anxiety rested for a moment on Blunn’s face.

“I will see him at once,” he decided. “Count Itash, too, immediately he returns.”

MR. GURLENHEIM was a short, rather pudgy man, with flaxen hair, streaked with grey, a guttural voice, and a fussy manner. He accepted a chair, but got up again directly.

“My friend,” he exclaimed, as soon as he had shaken hands, “it is a serious matter on which I have come to see you. We have received a communication signed by the Secretary of the Limitation of Armaments Conference requiring a statement of all steel sold to Japan for the period of the last two years. We are asked to prepare it at once, as it may be referred to at the next meeting of the Confer nee.” “Nothing to worry about,” Blunn declared, pushing a box of cigars across the table. “The Conference have accepted the position so far as the steel supplied from Germany is concerned—faulty plates. Our people conceded—on paper— an enormous reduction in price. As regards the steel from America—well, Japan over-bought. That’s all she can say. There seemed a possibility of shortage in steel and she decided to cover herself. We’re only limited to building, not to making provision for building.”

“But what about the building, my friend?” Mr. Gurlenheim enquired anxiously. “Japan has gone a little beyond her specified limit, eh?”

“We are not fools, we and those others,” Cornelius Blunn told him calmly. “What has been done in Japan it is better for you not to know. But whatever has been done has been accomplished in such a manner that it would take a year to discover anything, and before then the time will have arrived.”

Mr. Gurlenheim drew a very large silk handkerchief of florid design from his pocket and mopped his forehead.

“This year will seem like ten to me,” he confessed. “It is all very well for you, my friend. You will be in Germany when the storm bursts. Supposing the people should take it into their heads to wreak vengeance upon us here? They might—if they knew.”

Cornelius Blunn smiled scornfully.

“If you feel like that,” he said, “you’d better go to the Riviera for a few months, and leave some one else your share of the plunder here. Only you must let me know quickly. You are down for very unimportant work, nothing that exposes you to the slightest risk, but I want to be sure of even the weakest link in the chain.”

“I shall stay,” Gurlenheim declared. “I know what I have to do. But, supposing—supposing for one moment, Blunn, „that anything went wrong. Say, for instance, that things came out at the Limitation of Armaments Conference and that America decided to join the Pact?” “In that case there would be a postponement,” was the grim acknowledgement. “The end might not come in your days or mine.”

“No fear of the whole scheme leaking

out with names and that sort of thing?” Gurlenheim persisted.

“There is no fear of that,” Blunn assured him. “The only complete list of names and stations in this country never leaves my possession. I have been looking at it to-night. No one else ever sees it.”

Mr. Gurlenheim began to feel a man again—or as much of a man as nature intended him to be. He accepted the cigar which he had Previously ignored, pinched it carefully and admired its quality.

“It is a great thing to Pe a very rich man like you,” he sighed. “Money comes fast enough over here, but not fast enough for the years. I am fifty years old and I have barely a million.”

Blunn smiled.

“Before this time next year you can call it ten,” he promised. “The wealth of the world is coming to us, Gurlenheim. It is coming because we’re going to take it. To-night at dinner, drink a glass of wine to the memory of the men who drew up the Treaty of Versailles, and who thought that war could only be made with ships and men.’

“That war could only he made with ships and men!” Gurlenheim repeated, as he rose to his feet. “Good! I will drink that glass of wine. I will drink that toast.”

CHAPTER XII.

GRANT drew a little sigh of relief as, in response to his invitation, the door of his room was opened and his longexpected visitor arrived. He rose at once to his feet. For a person whose enthusiasms were chiefly latent, his manner was almost exuberant.

“Colonel Hodson,” he declared, “you’re the one man in the States I’ve been longing to have a chat with ever since I landed. I’m afraid I’m responsible for bringing you back from your vacation.” The newcomer smiled slightly as he shook hands. He was a tall, fine-looking man, with strong features and a dignified carriage. His eyes wandered from Grant to Stoneham who was seated at the table writing a letter.

“This is my friend, Mr. Dan Stoneham, late editor of the New York," Grant explained. “He is with me up to the eyes in this business. Dan, come here and shake hands with Colonel Hodson, head of the—well, what do you call your department now, Hodson? Home Secret Service it used to be before the word ‘Secret Service’ became taboo.”

“ ‘Service A’ we call it now,” Hodson confided. “Nothing much in a name anyway. And nothing much in the job lately. I’d been down in Honolulu a month when they cabled for me ’

Grant pushed up an easy-chair, produced cigars, and whiskey and a svohon and rang for ice.

“I was afraid they weren't going to send for you after all,” he observed. “They didn’t seem in any way anxious to put me in touch with you. Tell me honestly, Hodson, what do they think of me in the Department?”

“They are interested,” the latter acknowledged, stretching himself out and lighting a cigar. “They have a great respect for your insight on all ordinary matters, but in the present instance they are inclined to think that you have a bee in your bonnet.”

“I was afraid so,” Grant admitted. “I’m not surprised at it.”

“They think that you’ve been mixing with the foreigners, and especially with the British, pretty freely, over on the other side,” Hodson continued, “and that you’ve got a lot of un-American stuff in your blood. You know Secret Service and foreign plots and all these German cum Japanese scares don’t cut much ice in Washington these days. You should hear Senator Ross on the subject.” “I’ve heard him,” Grant groaned. “I know the spirit, too, and I know perfectly well, Hodson, that if I’d been living in America for the last twenty years and hadn’t been out of it except as a tourist, I should probably he feeling exactly the same way. Ross is wrong. I should have been wrong. There’s a very terrible crisis looming up before us. You and I, Hodson, are going to avert the greatest calamity with which the world has ever been threatened.”

“Let me warn you,” Hodson said, “my

instructions are to go dead slow with you. I am to do nothing which will make a laughing stock of the Department or which will evoke even questions from nations with whom we are upon friendly terms.”

“I quite understand your position,” Grant assured him. “When you’re convinced, as you will be soon, you’ll be with me body and soul. Until then I’ll take you by the hand carefully.”

“Let’s get to work then,” Hodson suggested. “Give me an outline of your suspicions and show me the loose threads that you can’t lay hold of yourself.”

RIGHT!” Grant declared. “First of all then. In Monte Carlo I came across a plot to prevent that invitation being sent to America to join the Pact of Nations. I frustrated it. Over dinner some time I’ll tell you how. That doesn’t matter for the moment. The information upon which I acted came partly from the Princess von Diss, who was sent from Berlin to Monte Carlo to see what I was up to there, and partly from a dancing girl, the sweetheart of Count Itash, a young man who has held various diplomatic positions in Japan and whom I should describe as Japan’s arch intriguer, just as Cornelius Blunn is Germany’s. The information she gave me was correct.”

“Is this man Itash the sort of person who gives away his secrets to his feminine companions?” Hodson asked quietly.

“Not in the least,” Grant acknowledged. “As a matter of fact we have only just discovered the truth. He talks in his sleep. The girl, unfortunately, is madly in love with him, and only gives him away piecemeal. A few days ago in a fury of jealousy—Itash has brought another woman out here—she told me that he was worried about Japan’s contracts with the steel houses here, in addition to their importations from Germany. I spoke to Washington on the telephone. They have agreed to take the matter up. They have already applied to their own steel companies for particulars of steel supplied to Japan during the last two years, and when they get it, which they will before the Limitation of Armaments Conference, it will be a staggerer. That’s only a tiny little link in the chain, though. Japan’s clever enough to wriggle out of that, or to keep the thing going until it’s too late. It just helps, that’s all. Last night the girl was fool enough to try and shoot her rival. She escaped arrest and came to me. She declared that unless Itash promised to give up the other woman she would tell me wonderful things. We telephoned Itash, who was still ignorant of his nocturnal indiscretions and who came round at once. His attitude towards the girl was brutal and I am convinced that she was on the point of making a full disclosure of all she knew. Cornelius Blunn, however, had discovered the leakage, and Blunn I am sorry to tell you, Hodson, is, I believe, on very friendly terms with certain members of your police organization here. They managed to effect the girl’s arrest just as Itash had reduced her to a state of fury, and they did their best, acting under special orders, to prevent her saying_ a word to me. 'She told me one thing in French. She whispered that the whole secret of *a great internal conspiracy against America could be discovered in a little gold casket which never leaves Blunn’s possession. It is at present in room twelve hundred and eight of this hotel.”

“Has she anything more to tell?” Hodson asked.

. “I know that she has,” Grant assured him. “But, although the charge against her can scarcely be a very serious one, as the girl was uninjured, they refuse to allow me, or even a lawyer, whom I engaged, to see her at all. She is at present in the Tombs Prison. The charge against her, I suppose, could be handled in many different ways, but can she be kept legally from seeing either a lawyer or a friend?”

“She cannot,” Hodson declared.

“Then let this be your start,” Grant begged. “Go to the Tombs this minute. You have the right to insist upon seeing her. Do so. Tell her you come from me. Here is my card.”

“Accompany me,” Hodson suggested after a moment’s reflection. “We will interview the young lady together.. .”

COLONEL HODSON, it appeared, was after all a little sanguine. At Police Hea dquarters he left Grant in the waiting room while he made his way to visit a personage in authority. Instead of the few minutes he had mentioned, however, he was gone nearly half an hour. When he returned there was a marked change in his manner. He seemed, subco nsciously, to be treating Grant with a little more respect.

“Well, you’re right, so far, Slattery,” he confessed. “There’s a conspiracy here to keep that young woman, from communicating with anybody at all, a conspiracy which is? entirely against police regulations and which is going to lead to a whole heap of trouble later on. However, there it is, and they’re in it deep enough to run a pretty considerable risk. They’ve tried every mortal bluff they can think of, but their present attitude clean gives the show away. In an hour’s time they will be compelled to let me visit her. Until then we’ll take a drive round and I’d like to hear a little more of your story. I’ll frankly admit, Slattery,” he acknowledged, as they left the_ place together, “that my interest is growing.”

They drove about for an hour, and Grant confided a great deal of the result of his wanderings and investigations during the last two years. Hodson listened imperturbably. He realized the note of conviction in his companion’s tone, but he himself kept an open mind. Notwithstanding his official position, he had the instincts and the outlook of a citizen. Deliberate warfare with its hideous wastage of human life and its ghastly uncertainty seemed to him a visionary idea, a phantasy of the disordered and overimaginative brain. A single person of disordered mentality might brood upon such a cataclysm; no normal group of persons in these sober days were likely to tolerate the idea. All these little happenings and tendencies to which Grant alluded, might so easily be traced to lesser things. He made only one comment.

SUPPOSING for a moment,” he said, “that there was the lehst truth in your prophecy and that a naval attack from outside was to be supplemented by an enormous and wide-reaching internal conspiracy, do you realize what a terrible reflection that would be upon my Department?”

“I can’t help it, Hodson,’^ Grant declared. “Of course I realize it. I’m not going to blame you. No one can be blamed for not searching for what they don’t believe exists, but I do beg you to remember that if there’s a thousand to one chance that my view of things is correct you ought not to leave my side until we’re through with this business.. . And so far as you personally are concerned, now listen. During the last two years I have submitted between forty and fifty reports dealing with this matter to the Department in Washington. Have those reports been handed on to you?” “Not one of them,” Hodson replied. “I had no idea even, that you had ever made them.”

“Then you must remember,” Grant pointed out, “that at the worst, the chief responsibility rests with those higher up. My reports should every one of them have come to you, and you should have made the investigations on this side to which they pointed. Can you tell me offhand whether there are any great patriotic societies formed to keep Germans together in this country?”

“There’s one,” Hodson acquiesced. “ ‘Brothers in Love’, they call it—kind of Oddfellows affair. It exists chiefly for charity and does an enormous amount of good. It must have two or three million members.”

“Anything with the Japanese?”

“There is one, but I don’t know much about it,” Hodson confessed. “It is rather a different class thing, founded to teach the lower classes the arts of agriculture and to keep the others in todch with Japanese culture and literature.”

“Quite so,” Grant murmured. “I haven’t the faintest doubt that those societies are on the surface everything they appear to be. Neither have I the slightest doubt that behind them, committee behind committee, are the people who deal with Blunn and Itash.”

Hodson smiled a little doubtfully.

“I’m in a receptive frame of mind, Slattery,” he admitted, “but don’t try me too high. Processions, brass bands, and picnics, are all I can think of in connection with the ‘Brothers in Love.’ The Japanese I never quite understood. Here we are back again. I see the Governor’s car here. Now we ought to have some fun.”

Grant again waited for his friend, who this time was gone for a little more than ten minutes. When he returned there was a steely glint in his eye.

“Slattery,” he announced, “you win all round so far as this girl’s concerned.

They’ve had her up before the magistrate while we’ve been away, discharged her, and they have the effrontery to assure me that they let her walk out of the Court without asking where she was going to, or without having her followed. They’ve just turned her loose in New York, and left us to hunt. I don’t like it. Come along!”

“Where to?” Grant asked.

“To see some friends of mine, who can tackle this job,” was the stern reply. “We ought to be able to find her before many hours are passed.”

To be Continued.