SYNOPSIS: Capt. Graham, an English officer, invents a new explosive of tremendous power and tells about it at a fashionable London restaurant in the hearing of a number of people, including John Lutchester, another Englishman; Pamela Van Teyl, an American girl; Oscar Fischer, a German-American, and Baron Sunyea, a Japanese. He mysteriously disappears. Pamela, believing he has been overpowered and is being kept in some part of the restaurant, obtains information from two employees with reference to a deserted chapel beside the restaurant. She secures the key to the chapel. In the meantime Graham awakens from a drugged stupor to find himself in the chapel confronted with Fischer, who demands the formula for the new explosive. It develops that the formula has already disappeared. Lutchester rescues Graham and sends him under guard to a quiet country place, but on the way Graham is killed. In the meantime Pamela Van Teyl returns to America on the same boat as Fischer and finds that he is sharing rooms in New York with her brother with a Japanese valet named Nikasti. The valet proves to be in the Japanese secret service and, believing Pamela to have the stolen formula, he tries to force it from her. She is rescued by Lutchester, who has also journeyed to America. Fischer has James Van Teyl in his power and promises to release him if Pamela will give him the document.
“JIMMY,” she said, “you’re a fool, and you’ve been drinking. Fetch the water bottle.”
He obeyed, and she dashed water in Fischer’s face. Presently he opened his eyes, groaned and sat up. There were two livid marks upon the throat. Van Teyl watched him like a crouching animal. His eyes were still lit with sullen fire. The lust for killing was upon him. Fischer sat up and blinked. He felt the atmosphere of the room, and he knew his danger. His hand stole into his hip-pocket, and a small revolver suddenly flashed upon his knees. He drew a long breath of relief. He was like a fugitive who had found sanctuary.
“So that’s the game, James Van Teyl, is it?” he exclaimed. “Now listen.”
He adjusted the revolver with a click. His cruel, long fingers were pressed around its stock.
“I am not threatening, you,” he went on. “I am not fond of violence, and I don’t believe in it. This is just in case you come a single yard nearer to me. Now, Miss Van Teyl, my business is with you. We won’t fence any longer. You will hand over to me the pocket-book which you stole from Captain Graham in Henry’s Restaurant. Hand it over to me intact, you understand. In return I will give you the forged transfer of stock, and leave it to your sense of honor as to whether you care to pay your brother’s debt or not. If you decline to consider my proposition, I shall ring up Joseph Neville, your brother’s senior partner. I shall not even wait for to-morrow, mind. I shall make an appointment, and I shall place in his hands the proof of your brother’s robbery.”
“Perhaps,” Pamela murmured, “I was wrong to stop you, Jimmy. . . . Anything else, Mr. Fischer?”
“Just this. I would rather have carried this matter through in a friendly fashion, for reasons at which I think you can guess.”
She shook her head.
“You flatter my intelligence!” she told him scornfully.
“I will explain then. I desire to offer myself as your suitor.”
She laughed at him without restraint or consideration.
“I would rather marry my brother’s valet!” she declared.
“You are entirely wrong,” he protested. You are wrong, too, in holding up cards against me. We are on the same side. You are an American, and so am I. I swear that I desire nothing that is not for your good. You have wonderful gifts, and I have great wealth and opportunities. I have also a sincere and very heartfelt admiration for you.”
“I have never been more flattered!” Pamela scoffed.
HE looked a little wistfully from one to the other. Antagonism and dislike were written in their faces. Even Pamela, who was skilled in the art of subterfuge, made little effort to conceal her aversion.
Nevertheless, he continued doggedly.
“What does it matter,” he demanded, ‘who handles this formula —you or I?
Our faces are turned in the same direction. There is this difference only with me. I want to make it the basis of a kindlier feeling in Washington towards my father’s country."
Pamela’s eyebrows were raised.
“Are you sure,” she asked, “that the formula itself would not find its way into your father’s country?”
“As to that I pledge my word," he replied. “I am an American citizen.”
"Looks like it, doesn’t he!” Van Tey jeered.
"Tell us what you have been doing in Berlin, then?” Pamela inquired.
“I had a definite mission there,” Fischer assured them, “which I hope to bring to a definite conclusion. If you are an American citizen in the broadest sense of the word, England is no more to you than Germany. I want to place before some responsible person in the American Government, a proposal—an official proposal the acceptance of which will be in years to come of immense benefit to her.”
“And the quid pro quo?” Pamela asked gently.
“I am not here for the purpose of gratifying curiosity,” Fischer replied, “but if you will take this matter up seriously, you shall be the person through whom this proposal shall be brought before the American Government. The whole of the negotiations shall be conducted through you. If you succeed, you will be known throughout history as the woman who saved America from her great and growing danger. If you fail, you will be no worse off than you are now.”
"And you propose to hand over the conduct of these negotiations to me,” Pamela observed, “in return for what?”
“The pocket-book which you took from Captain Graham.”
“So there we are, back again at the commencement of our discussion,” Pamela remarked. “Are you going to repeat that you want this formula for Washington and not for Berlin?”
“My first idea,” Fischer confessed, “was to hand it over to Germany. I have changed my views. Germany has great explosives of her own. This formula shall be used in a different fashion. It shall be a lever in the coming negotiations between America and Germany.”
“We have had a great deal of conversation to no practical purpose,” Pamela declared. “Why are you so sure that I have the formula?”
Fischer frowned slightly. He had recovered himself now and his tone was as steady and quiet as ever. Only occasionally his eyes wandered to where James Van Teyl was fidgeting about the table, and at such times his fingers tightened upon the stock of his revolver.
“It is practically certain that you have the papers,” he pointed out. “You were the first person to go up the stairs after Graham had been rendered unconscious. Joseph admits that he had been forced to leave him—-the orchestra was waiting to play. He was alone in that little room. That you should have known of its existence and his presence there is surprising, but nothing more. Furthermore, I am convinced that you were in some way concerned with his rescue later. You visited Hassan and you visited Joseph. From the latter you procured the key of the chapel. If only he had had the courage to tell the truth—well, we will let that pass. You have the papers, Miss Van Teyl. I am bidding a great price for them. If you are a wise woman, you will not hesitate.”
THERE was a knock at the door. They all three turned towards it a little impatiently. Even Pamela and her brother felt the grip of an absorbing problem. To their surprise, it was Lutchester who reappeared upon the threshold. In his hand he held a small sealed packet.
“So sorry to disturb you all,” he apologized. “I have something here which I believe belongs to you, Miss Van Teyl. I thought I'd better bring it up and explain. From the way your little Japanese friend was holding on to it, I thought it might be important. It is a little torn, but that isn’t my fault.”
He held it out to Pamela. It was a long packet torn open at one end. From it was protruding a worn, brown pocket-book. Pamela’s hand closed upon it mechanically. There was a dazed look in her eyes. Fischer’s fingers stole once more towards the pocket into which, at Lutchester's entrance, he had slipped his revolver.
LUTCHESTER, to all appearance, remained sublimely unconscious of the tension which his words and appearance seemed to have created. He had strolled a little further into the room, and was looking down at the packet which he still held.
“You are wondering how I got hold of this, of course?” he observed. “Just one of those simple little coincidences which either mean a great deal or nothing at all.”
“How did you know it was mine?” Pamela asked, almost under her breath.
“I’ll explain,” Lutchester continued. “I was in the lobby of the hotel, a few minutes ago, when I heard the fire bell outside. I hurried out and watched the engines go by from the sidewalk. I have always been rather interested in-”
“Never mind that, please. Go on,” Pamela begged.
“Certainly,” Lutchester assented. “On the way back, then, I saw a little Japanese, who was coming out of the hotel, knocked down by a taxi-cab which skidded nearly into the door. I don’t think he was badly hurt—I’m not even sure that he was hurt at all. I picked up this packet from the spot where he had been lying, and I was on the point of taking it to the office when I saw your name upon it, Miss Van Teyl, in what seemed to me to be your own handwriting, so I thought I’d bring it up.” He laid it upon the table. Pamela’s eyes seemed fastened upon it. She turned it over nervously.
“It is very kind of you, Mr. Lutchester,” she murmured.
“I’ll be perfectly frank,” he went on. “I should have found out where the little man who dropped it had disappeared to, and restored it to him, but I fancied—of course, I may have been wrong—that you and he were having some sort of a disagreement, a few minutes ago, when I happened to come in. Any way, that was in my mind, and I thought I’d run no risks."
"You did the very kindest and most considerate thing,” Pamela declared.
“The little Japanese must have been our new valet,” James Van Teyl observed. “I’m beginning to think that he is not going to be much of an acquisition.”
“You’ll probably see something of him in a few minutes,” Lutchester remarked. “I will wish you good night, Miss Van Teyl. Good night!"
Pamela’s reiterated thanks were murmured and perfunctory. Even James Van Teyl's hospitable instincts seemed numbed. They allowed Lutchester to depart with scarcely a word. With the closing of the door, speech brought them some relief from a state of tension which was becoming intolerable. Even then Fischer at first said nothing. He had risen noiselessly to his feet, his right hand was in the side-pocket of his coat, his eyes were fixed upon the table.
“So this is why you insisted upon a valet!" James Van Teyl exclaimed, his voice thick with anger. “He’s planted here to rob for you! Is that it, eh, Fischer?”
PAMELA drew the packet towards her and stood with her right palm covering it. Fischer seemed still at a loss for words.
“I can assure you,” he said at last, fervently. “that if that packet was stolen from Miss Van Teyl by Nikasti, it was done without my instigation. It is as much a surprise to me as to any of you. We can congratulate ourselves that it is not on the way to Japan.”
“He is speaking the truth,” she asserted. “Nikasti is not out to steal for others. He is playing the same games as all of us, only he is playing it for his own hand. Mr. Fischer has brought him here for some purpose of his own, without a doubt, but I am quite sure that Nikasti never meant to be anyone's cat's-paw.”
"Believe me, that is the truth,” Fischer agreed. “I will admit that I brought Nikasti here with a purpose, but upon my honor I swear that until this evening I never dreamed that he even knew of the existence of the formula.”
“Oh ! we are not the only people in the world who are clever,” Pamela declared, with an unnatural little laugh. “The first man who took note of Sandy Graham’s silly words as he rushed into Henry’s was Baron Sunyea. I saw him stiffen as he listened. He even uttered a word of remonstrance. Japan in London heard. Japan in your sitting-room here, in ten days’ time, knew everything there was to be known.”
“I didn’t bring Nikasti here for this,” Fischer insisted.
“Perhaps not,” Pamela conceded, “but if you’re a good American, what are you doing at all with a Japanese secret agent?”
“If you trust me, you shall know,” Fischer promised. “Listen to reason. Let us have finished with one affair at a time. You very nearly lost that formula to Japan. Hand over the pocket-book. You see how dangerous it is for it to remain in your possession. I’ll keep my share of the bargain. I’ll put my scheme before you. Come, be reasonable. See, here’s the forged transfer.”
He drew a paper from his pocket and spread it out upon the table. His long, hairy fingers were shaking with nervousness.
“Come, make it a deal,” he persisted. “You can pay me the defalcations or not, as you choose. There is your brother’s freedom and the honor of your name, in exchange for that pocket-book.”
PAMELA, after all her hesitation, seemed to make up her mind with startling suddenness. She thrust the pocket-book towards Fischer, took the transfer from his fingers and tore it into small pieces.
“I give in,” she said. “This time you have scored. We will talk about the other matter to-morrow.”
Fischer buttoned up the packet carefully in his breast-pocket. His eyes glittered. He turned towards the door. On the threshold he looked around. He stretched out his hand towards Pamela.
“Believe me, you have done well,” he assured her hoarsely. “I shall keep my word. I will set you in the path of great things.”
He left the room, and they heard the furious ringing of the lift bell. Pamela was tearing into smaller pieces the forged transfer. Van Teyl, a little pale, but with new life in his frame, was watching the fragments upon the floor. There was a tap at the door. Nikasti entered.
Pamela’s fingers paused in their task. Van Teyl stared at him. The newcomer was carrying the evening papers, which he laid down upon the table.
“Is there anything more I can do before I go to bed, sir?” he asked, with his usual reverential little bow.
“Aren’t you hurt?” Van Teyl exclaimed.
“Hurt?” Nikasti replied wonderingly. “Oh, no !” *
“Weren’t you knocked down by a taxicab,” Pamela asked, “outside the hotel?”
Nikasti looked from one to the other with an air of gentle surprise.
“I have been to my rooms in the servants’ quarters,” he told them, “on the twenty-sixth floor. I have not been downstairs at all. I have been unpacking and arranging my own humble belongings.”
Van Teyl clasped his forehead.
“Let me get this!” he exclaimed. “You haven’t been down in the lobby of the hotel, you haven’t been knocked down by a taxi-cab that skidded, you haven’t lost a pocket-book which you had previously stolen from my sister?”
Nikasti shook his head. He seemed completely mystified. He watched Pamela’s face carefully.
“Perhaps there has been some mistake,” he suggested quietly. “My English is sometimes not very good. I would not dream of trying to rob the young lady. I have not lost any pocket-book. I have not descended lower down in the hotel than this floor.”
Van Teyl waved him away, accepted his farewell salutation, and waited until the door was closed.
“Look here, Pamela,” he protested, turning almost appealing towards her, “my brain wasn’t made for this sort of thing. What in thunder does it all mean?”
Pamela looked at the fragments of paper upon the floor and sank back in an easy chair.
“Jimmy,” she confided, “I don’t know.”
PAMELA opened her eyes the next morning upon a distinctly pleasing sight. At the foot of her bed was an enormous basket of pink carnations. On the counterpane by her side lay a smaller cluster of twelve very beautiful dark red Gloire de Dijon Attached to these latter was a note.
“When did these flowers come, Leah?” Pamela asked the maid who was moving about the room.
“An hour ago, madam,” the girl told her.
“Read the name on the card.” Pamela directed, pointing to the mass of pink blossoms.
“Mr. Oscar H. Fischer,” the girl read out, “with respectful compliments.”
“He doesn’t know, then,” she murmured to herself. “Get my bath ready, Leah.”
The maid disappeared into the inner room. Pamela tore open the note attached to the roses by her side, and read it slowly through:—
Dear Miss Van Teyl,
I am so sorry, but the luncheon we had half-planned for to-day must be postponed. I have an urgent message to go south, to inspect—but no secrets! It’s horribly disappointing. I hope we may meet in a few days.
Pamela laid down the note, conscious of an indefined but distinct sensation of disappointment. After all, it was not so wonderful to wake up and find oneself in New York. The sun was pleasant, the little puffs of air which came in through the window across the park delightful and exhilarating, yet something had gone out of the day. Accustomed to self-analysis, she asked herself swiftly—what? It was, without a doubt, something to do with Lutchester’s departure. She tried to face the question of her disappointment. Was it possible to feel any real interest in a man who preferred a Government post to the army at such a time, and who had brought his golf clubs out to America? Her imagination for a moment revolved around the problem of his apparently uninteresting and yet, in some respects, contradictory personality. Was it really her fancy or had she, every now and then, detected behind that flamboyant manner traces of something deeper and more serious, something which seemed to indicate a life and aims of which nothing appeared upon the surface? She clasped her knees and sat up in bed, listening to the sound of the running water in the next room. Was there any possible explanation of his opportune appearance on the night before with a dummy pocket-book and a concocted story? The cleverest man on earth could surely never have gauged her position with Fischer and intervened in such a manner at the psychological moment. Yet he had done it, she reflected, gazing thoughtfully at Fischer’s gift. If, indeed, he knew what was passing around him to that extent, how much more knowledge might he not possess? She felt the little silken belt around her waist. At least there was no one who could take Sandy Graham’s secret from her until she chose to give it up. Supposing for a moment that Lutchester was also out for the great things, was he fooled by her attitude? If he knew so much, he must know that the secret remained with her. Perhaps, after all he was only a philanderer in intrigue. . . .
PAMELA bathed and dressed, sent for her brother, and, to his horror, insisted upon an American breakfast.
“It’s quite time I came back to look after you, Jimmy," she said severely, as she watched him send away his grape fruit and gaze helplessly at his bacon and eggs, “You’re going to turn over a new leaf young man."
“I shan’t be sorry,” he confessed fervently. “I tell you, Pamela, when you have a thing like this hanging over you, it’s hell—some hell! You just want to drown your thoughts and keep going all the time.”
She nodded sagely.
“Well, that’s over now, Jimmy,” she said, “and I want you to listen to me. It’s more than likely that Mr. Fischer may find out at any moment that the mysterious pocket-book, which came from heaven knows where, is a faked one. He may be horrid about it.”
“While we are on that,” Van Teyl interrupted, “I couldn’t sleep a wink last night for trying to imagine where on earth that fellow Lutchester came in, and what his game was."
“I have a headache this morning, trying to puzzle out the same thing,’’ Pamela told him.
“He seems such an ordinary sort of chap,” Van Teyl continued thoughtfully. “Good sportman, no doubt, and all that sort of thing, but the last fellow in the world to concoct a yarn, and if he did, what was his object?”
“Jimmy,” his sister begged, “let’s quit. Of course, I know a little more than you do, but the little more that I do know only makes it more confusing. Now, to make it worse, he’s gone away."
“ What, this morning?”
"Gone away on his Government work,” Pamela announced. “I had a note and some roses from him. Don't let’s talk about it, Jimmy. I keep on getting new ideas, and it makes my brain whirl. I want to talk about you.”
“I’m a rotten lot to talk about,” he sighed.
She patted his hand.
“You’re nothing of the sort, dear, and you’ve got to remember now that you’re out of the trouble. Hut. listen. Hurry down to the office as early as you can and set about straightening things out, so that if Mr. Fischer tries to make trouble, he won’t be able to do it. There’s my cheque for eighty-nine thousand dollars I made out last night before I went to bed,” she added, passing it over to him. “Just replace what stocks you’re short of and get yourself out of the mess, and don’t waste any time about it.”
His face glowed as he looked across the table.
“You’re the most wonderful sister, Pamela.”
“Nonsense!” she interrupted. “Nonsense! I ought not to have left you alone all this time, and, besides, I’m pretty sure he helped you into this trouble for his own ends. Anyway, we are all right now. I shall be in New York for a few days before I go to Washington. When I do go, you must see whether you can get leave and come with me.”
“That’s bully,” he declared. “I'll get leave, right enough. There’s never been less doing in Wall Street. But say, Pamela, I don’t seem to half understand what’s going on. You’ve given up most of your friends, and you spend months away there in Europe in all sorts of corners. Now you come back and you seem mixed up in regular secret service work. Where do you come in, any way? What are you going to Washington for?” She smiled.
“Queer tastes, haven’t I, Jimmy?”
“Queer for a girl.”
“That’s prejudice,” she objected, shaking her head. “Nowadays there are few things a woman can't do. To tell you the truth, my new interest in life started three years ago, when Uncle Theodore found out that I was going to Rome for the winter.”
“So Uncle Theodore started it, did he?
“That’s the worst of having an uncle in the Administration, isn't it? Well, of course, he gave me letters to everyone in Rome, and I found out what he wanted quite easily, and without the inquiries going through the Embassy at all. Sometimes, as you can understand, that’s a great advantage. I found it simply fascinating—the work, I mean—and after three or four more commissions—well, they recognized me at Washington. I have been to most of the capitals in Europe at different times, with small affairs to arrange at each, or information to get. Sometimes it’s been just about commercial things. Since the war, though, of course, it’s been more exciting than ever. If I were an Englishwoman instead of an American, I could tell them some things in London which they’d find pretty surprising. It’s not my affair, though, and I keep what information I do pick up until it works in with something else for our own good. I knew quite well in Berlin, for instance, to speak of something you’ve heard of, that Henry’s Restaurant in London was being used as a centre of espionage by the Germans. That is why I was on the look out, the day I went there.”
“You mean the day that pocket-book was stolen that the whole world seems crazy about?” Van Teyl asked.
“I believe it is perfectly true,” she said, “that a young man called Graham has invented an entirely new explosive, the formula for which he brought to Henry’s with him that day. It isn’t only what happens when the shell explodes, but a sort of putrefaction sets in all round, and they say that everything within a mile dies. There were spies down even watching his experiments. There were spies following him up to London, there were spies in Henry’s Restauraunt when like a fool he gave the thing away. Fischer was the ringleader of this lot, and he meant having the formula from Graham that night. I don’t want to bore you, Jimmy, but I got there first.”
“Bore me!” the young man repeated. “Why, it’s like a modern Arabian Nights. I can’t imagine you in the thick of this sort of thing, Pamela.”
“It’s very easy to slip into the way of anything you like,” she answered. “I knew exactly what they were going to do to Captain Graham, and I got there before them. When they searched him, the formula had gone. Fischer caught my steamer and worried me all the way over. He thought he had us in a corner last night, and then a miracle happened.”
“You mean that fellow Lutchester turning up?”
“Yes, I mean that," Pamela admitted. “Say, didn’t that Jap fellow get the pocket-book from your rooms at all, then?” Van Teyl asked. “I couldn’t follow it all last night.”
“He searched my rooms," Pamela replied, “and failed to find it. Afterwards, when he and I were alone in your sitting-room, heaven knows what would have happened, but for the miraculous arrival of Mr. Lutchester, whom I had left behind in London, come to pay an evening call in the Hotel Plaza, New York!”
VAN TEYL shook his head slowly, got up from his seat, lit a cigarette, and came back again.
“Pam,” he confessed, “my brain won’t stand it. You’re not going to tell me that Lutchester’s in the game? Why, a simpler sort of fellow I never spoke to.”
“I can’t make up my own mind about Mr. Lutchester,” Pamela sighed. “He helped me in London on the night I sailed —in fact, he was very useful indeed—but why he invented that story about Nikasti, brought a dummy pocket-book into the room and helped us out of all our troubles, unless it was by sheer and brilliant instinct, I cannot imagine.”
“Let me get on to this,” Van Teyl said. “Even the pocket-book was a fake, then?”
“I shouldn’t be likely to leave things I risk my life for about my bedroom,” she told him.
“Where is it, then—the real thing?” he She smiled.
“If you must know, Jimmy,” she confided, dropping her voice, “it is in a little compartment of a silk belt around my waist. It will remain there until I get to Washington, or until Mr. Haskall comes to me."
“Haskall, the Government explosives man?”
“Even he won’t get it without Government authority.”
“Now, tell me, Pamela,” Van Teyl went on—“you’re a far-seeing girl—I suppose we should get it in the neck from Germany some day or other, if the Germans won? Why don’t you hand the formula over to the British and give them a chance to get ahead?”
“That’s a sensible question, Jimmy, and I’ll try to answer it,” Pamela promised. “Because when once the shells are made and used, the secret will be gone. I think it very likely that it would enable England to win the war; but, you see, I am an American, not English, and I’m all American. I have been in touch with things pretty closely for some time now, and I see trouble ahead for us before very long. I can’t exactly tell you where it’s coming from, but I feel it. I want America to have something up her sleeve, that’s why."
“You’re a great girl, Pamela,” her brother declared. “I’m off down town, feeling a different man. And, Pamela, I haven’t said much, but God bless you, and as long as I live I’m going as straight as a die. I’ve had my lesson.”
He bent over her a little clumsily and kissed her. Pamela walked to the door with him.
“Be a dear,” she called out, “and come back early. And, Jimmy!”
“Put things right at the office at once,” she whispered with emphasis. “Fischer hasn’t found out yet. I sent him a message this morning, thanking him for the carnations, and asking him to walk with me in the park after breakfast I shall keep him away till lunch time, at least.”
The young man looked at her, and at Nikasti, who out in the corridor was holding his hat and cane. Then he chuckled.
“And they say that things don’t happen in New York!” he murmured, as he turned away.
AN elderly New Yorker, a man of fashion, renowned for his social perceptions, pressed his companion’s arm at the entrance to Central Park and pointed to Pamela.
“There goes a typical New York girl,” he said, “and the best-looking I’ve seen for many a long day. You can go all round Europe, Freddie, and not see a girl with a face and figure like that. She has that frank way, too, of looking you in the eyes.”
“I know,” the other assented. “Gibson’s girls all had it. Kind of look which seems to say—‘I know you find me nice and I don’t mind. I wonder whether you’re nice, too’.” ...
Pamela strolled along the park with Fischer by her side. She wore a tailor-made costume of black and white tweed, a smart hat, in which yellow seemed the predominating color. Her shoes, her gloves, the light tie about her throat, were all the last word in the simple elegance of suitability. Fischer walked by her side— a powerful, determined figure in a carefully-pressed blue serge suit and a brown Homburg hat. He wore a rose in his buttonhole, and he carried a cane—both unusual circumstances. After fifty years of strenuous living, Mr. Fischer seemed suddenly to have found a new thing in the world.
“This is a pleasant idea of yours, Miss Van Teyl,” he said.
“I haven’t disturbed your morning, I hope?” she asked.
“I guess, if you have, it isn’t the way you mean,” he replied. “You’ve disturbed a good deal of my time and thoughts lately."
“Well, you’ve had your own way now,” she sighed, looking at him out of the corner of her eyes. “I suppose you always get your own way in the end, don’t you, Mr. Fischer?”
“Generally,’ he admitted. “I tell you, though, Miss Van Teyl,” he went on earnestly, “if you’re alluding to last night’s affair, I hated the whole business. It was my duty, and the opportunity was there, but with what I have I am satisfied. With reference to that little debt of your brother’s--”
“Please don’t say a word, Mr. Fischer,” she interrupted. “You will find that all put right as soon as you get down to Wall Street. Tell me, what have you done with your prize?”
Mr. Fischer looked very humble.
“Miss Van Teyl,” he said, “for certain reasons I am going to tell you the truth. Perhaps it will be the best in the long run. We may even before long be working together. So I start by being honest with you. The pocket-book is by now on its way to Germany.”
“To Germany?” she exclaimed. “And after all your promises!”
“Ah, but think, Miss Van Teyl,” he pleaded. “I throw aside all subterfuge. In your heart you know well what I am and what I stand for. I deny it no longer. I am a German-American, working for Germany, simply because America does not need my help. If America were at war with any country in the world, my brains, my knowledge, my wealth would be hers. But now it is different. Germany is surrounded by many enemies, and she calls for her sons all over the world to remember the Fatherland. You can sympathize a little with my unfortunate country, Miss Van Teyl, and yet remain a good American. You are not angry with me?”
“I suppose I ought to be, but I am not in the least,” she assured him. “I never had any doubt as to the destination of that packet.”
“That,” he admitted, “is a relief to me. Let us wipe the matter from our memories, Miss Van Teyl.”
“One word,” she begged, “and that only of curiosity. “Did you examine the contents of the pocket-book?”
He turned his head and looked at her. For a moment he had lost the greater spontaneity of his new self. He was again the cold, calculating machine.
“No,” he answered, “except to take out and destroy what seemed to be a few private memoranda. There was a bill for flowers, a note from a young lady—some rubbish of that sort. The remaining papers were all calculations and figures, chemical formulae.”
“Are you a chemist, Mr. Fischer?” she inquired.
“Not in the least,” he acknowledged. “I recognized just enough of the formulae on the last page to realize that there were entirely new elements being dealt with.” She nodded.
“I only asked out of curiosity. I agree. Let us put it out of our thoughts. You see, I am generous. We have fought a battle, you and I, and I have lost. Yet we remain friends.”
“It is more than your friendship that I want, Miss Van Teyl,” he pleaded, his voice shaking a little. “I am years older than you, I know, and, by your standards, I fear unattractive. But you love power, and I have it. I will take you into my schemes. I will show you how those live who stand behind the clouds and wield the thunders.”
SHE looked at him with genuine surprise. It was necessary to readjust some of her Impressions of him. Oscar Fischer was, after all, a human being.
‘‘What you say is all very well so far as it goes,” she told him. “I admit that a life of scheming and adventure attracts me. I love power. I can think of nothing more wonderful than to feel the machinery of the world—the political world —roar or die away, according to the touch of one's fingers. Oh, yes, we're alike so far as that is concerned! But there is a very vital difference. You are only an American by accident. I am one by descent. For me there doesn't exist any other country. For you Germany comes first."
“But can’t you realize,” he went on eagerly, “that even this is for the best? America to-day is hypnotized by a maudlin, sentimental affection for England, a country from whom she never received anything but harm. We want to change that. We want to kill for ever the misunderstanding between the two greatest nations in the world. My creed of life could be yours, too, without a single lapse from your patriotism. Friendship, alliance, brotherhood, between Germany and America. That would be my text.”
“Shall I be perfectly frank?” Pamela asked.
“Nothing else is worth while,” was the instant answer.
“Well, then,” she continued, “I can quite see that Germany has everything to gain from America’s friendship, but I cannot see the quid pro quo.
"And yet it is so clear,” Fischer insisted. “Your own cloud may not be very large just now, but it is growing, and, before you know it, it will be upon you. Can you not realize why Japan is keeping out of this war? She is conserving her strength. Millions flow into her coffers week by week. In a few years time, Japan, for the first time in her history, will know what it is to possess solid wealth. What does she want it for, do you think? She has no dream of European aggression, or her soldiers would be fighting there now. China is hers for the taking, a rich prize ready to fall into her mouth at any moment. But the end and aim of all Japanese policy, the secret Mecca of her desires, is to repay with the sword the insults your country has heaped upon her. It is for that, believe me, that her arsenals are working night and day, her soldiers are training, her fleet is in reserve. While you haggle about a few volunteers, Japan is strengthening and perfecting a mighty army for one purpose and one purpose only. Unless you wake up, you will be in the position that Great Britain was in two years ago. Even now, work though you may, you will never wholly make up for lost time. The one chance for you is friendship with Germany.”
“Will Germany be in a position to help us after the war?” Pamela asked.
“Never doubt it,” Fischer replied vehemently. “Before peace is signed the sea power of England will be broken.
Financially she will be ruined. She is a country without economic science, without foresight, without statesmen. The days of her golden opportunities have passed, frittered away. Unless we of our great pity bind up her wounds, England will bleed to death before the war is
“That, you must remember,” Pamela said practically, “is your point of view.”
“I could tell you things-,” he began.
“Don’t,” she begged. “I know what your outlook is now. Be definite. Leaving aside that other matter, what is your proposition to me?”
FISCHER walked for a while in silence. They had turned back some time since, and were once more nearing the Plaza.
“You ask me to leave out what is most vital,” he said at last. “I have never been married, Miss Van Teyl. I am wealthy. I am promised great honors at the end of this war. When that comes, I shall rest. If you will be my wife, you can choose your home, you can choose your title.”
She shook her head.
“But I am not sure that I even like you, Mr. Fischer,” she objected. “We have fought in opposite camps, and you have had the bad taste to be victorious. Besides which, you were perfectly brutal to James, and I am not at all sure that I don’t resent your bargain with me. As a matter of fact, I am feeling very bitter towards you.”
“You should not,” he remonstrated earnestly. “Remember that, after all, women are only dabblers in diplomacy. Their very physique prevents them from playing the final game. You have brains, of course, but there are other things— experience, courage, resource. You would be a wonderful helpmate, Miss Van Teyl, even if your individual and unaided efforts have not been entirely successful.”
She sighed. Pamela just then was a picture of engaging humility.
“It is so hard for me,” she murmured. “I do not want to marry yet. I do not wish to think of it. And so far as you are concerned, Mr. Fischer—well, I am simply furious when I think of your attitude last night. But I love adventures.”
“I will promise you all the adventures that can be crammed into your life,” he urged.
“But be more definite,” she persisted. “Where should we start? You are over here now on some important mission. Tell me more about it?’
“I cannot just yet,” he answered. “All that I can promise you is that, if I am successful, it will stop the war just as surely as Captain Graham’s new explosive.
“I thought you were going to make a confidante of me,” she complained.
He suddenly gripped her arm. It was the first time he had touched her, and she felt a queer surging of the blood to her head, a sudden and almost uncontrollable repulsion. The touch of his long fingers was like flame; his eyes, behind their sheltering spectacles, glowed in a curious, disconcerting fashion.
“To the woman who was my pledged wife,” he said, “I would tell everything. From the woman who gave me her hand and became my ally I would have no secrets. Come, I have a message, more than a message, to the American people. I am taking it to Washington before many hours have passed. If it is your will, it should be you to whom I will deliver it.”
Pamela walked on with her head in the air. Fischer was leaning a little towards her. Every now and then his mouth twitched slightly. His eyes seemed to be seeking to reach the back of her brain.
“Please go now,” she begged. “I can’t think clearly while you are here, and I want to make up my mind. I will send to you when I am ready.”
PAMELA sat that afternoon on the balcony of the country club at Baltusrol and approved of her surroundings. Below her stretched a pleasant vista of rolling greensward, dotted here and there with the figures of the golfers. Beyond, the misty blue background of rising hills.
“I can’t tell you how peaceful this all seems, Jimmy,” she said to her brother, who had brought her out in his automobile. “One doesn’t notice the air of strain over on the Continent, because it’s the same everywhere, but it gets a little on one’s nerves, all the same. I positively love it here.”
“It’s fine to have you,” was the hearty response. “Gee, that fellow coming to the sixteenth hole can play some!”
Pamela directed her attention idly towards the figure which her brother indicated—a man in light tweeds, who played with an easy and graceful swing, and with the air of one to whom the game presented no difficulties whatever. She watched him drive for the seventeenth—a long, raking ball, fully a hundred yards further than his opponent’s—watched him play a long iron shot on to the green and hole out in three.
“Two under bogey,” James Van Teyl murmured. “I say, Pamela!”
She took no notice. Her eyes were still following the figure of the golfer. She watched him drive at the last hole, play a mashie shot on to the green, and hit the hole for a three. The frown deepened upon her forehead. She was looking very uncompromising indeed when the two men ascended the steps.
“I didn’t know, Mr. Lutchester, that there were any factories down this way,” she remarked severely, as he paused before her in surprise.
For a single moment she fancied she saw a flash of annoyance in his eyes. It was gone so swiftly, however, that she remained uncertain. He held out his hand, laughing.
“Fairly caught out, Miss Van Teyl,” he confessed. “You see, I was tempted, and I fell.”
His companion, an elderly, clean-shaven man, passed on. Pamela glanced after him.
"Who is your opponent?” she asked.
“Just someone I picked up on the tee,” Lutchester explained. “How is our friend Fischer this morning?”
“I walked with him for an hour in the Park,” Pamela replied. “He seemed quite cheerful. I have scarcely thanked you yet for returning the pocket-book, have I?”
His face was inscrutable.
"Couldn’t keep a thing that didn’t belong to me, could I?” he observed.
“You have a marvellous gift for discovering lost property,” she murmured.
“For discovering the owners, you mean,” he retorted, with a little bow.
“You’re some golfer, I see, Mr. Lutchester,” Van Teyl interposed.
“I was on my game to-day,” Lutchester admitted. “With a little luck at the seventh,” he continued earnestly, “I might have tied the amateur record.
You see, my ball—but there, I musn’t bore you now. I must look after my opponent and stand him a drink. We shall meet again, I daresay.”
Lutchester passed on, and Pamela glanced up at her brother.
“Is he a sphinx or a fool?” she whispered.
“Don’t ask me,” Van Teyl replied. “Seems to me you were a bit rough on him, any way. I don't see why the fellow shouldn’t have a day’s holiday before he gets to work. If I had his swing, it would interfere with my career, I know that.”
"Did you recognize the man with whom he was playing?” Pamela inquired.
“Can’t say that I did. His face seems familiar, too.”
“Go and see if you can find out his name,” Pamela begged. “It isn’t ordinary curiosity. I really want to know.”
“That’s easy enough,” Van Teyl replied, rising from his place. “I’ll order tea at the same time.”
Pamela leaned a little further back in her chair. Her eyes seemed to be fixed upon the pleasant prospect of wooded slopes and green, upward-stretching sward. As a matter of fact, she saw only two faces—Fischer’s and Lutchester’s. Her chief impulse in life for the immediate present seemed to have resolved itself into a fierce, almost a passionate curiosity. It was the riddle of those two brains which she was so anxious to solve. Fischer, the cold, subtle intriguer, with schemes at the back of his mind which she knew quite well that, even in the moment of his weakness, he intended to keep to himself; and Lutchester, with his almost cynical devotion to pleasure, yet with his unaccountable habit of suggesting a strength and qualities to which he neither laid nor established any claim. Of the two men it was Lutchester who piqued her, with whom she would have found more pleasure in the battle of wits. She found herself alternately furious and puzzled with him, yet her uneasiness concerning him possessed more disquieting, more fascinating possibilities than any of the emotions inspired by the other man.
Van Teyl returned to her presently, a little impressed.
“Thought I knew that chap’s face,” he observed. “It’s Eli Hamblin — Senator Hamblin, you know.”
“A friend and confidant of the President,” she murmured. “A Westerner, too. I wonder what he’s doing here. . . Jimmy!”
“You’ve just got to be a dear,” Pamela begged. “Go to - the caddy master, or professional, or somebody, and find out whether Mr. Lutchester met him here by accident or whether they arrived together.”
“You’ll turn me into a regular sleuthhound,” he laughed. “However, here goes.”
HE strolled off again, and Pamela found herself forced to become mundane and frivolous whilst she chatted with some newly-arrived acquaintances. It was not until some little time after her brother’s return that she found herself alone with him.
“Well?” she asked eagerly.
“They arrived within a few minutes of one another,” Van Teyl announced. “Senator Hamblin bought a couple of new balls and made some inquiries about the course, but said nothing about playing.
Lutchester, who appears not to have known him, came up later and asked him if he’d like a game. That’s all I could find out.”
Pamela pointed to a little cloud of dust in the distance.
“And there they go,” she observed, “together.”
Van Teyl threw himself into a chair and accepted the cup of tea which his sister handed him.
“Well,” he inquired, “what do you make of it?”
“There’s more in that question than you think, James,” Pamela replied. “All the same, I think I shall be able to answer it in a few days.”
Another little crowd of acquaintances discovered them, and Pamela was soon surrounded by a fresh group of admirers. They all went out presently to inspect the new tennis courts. Pamela and her brother were beset with invitations.
“You positively must stay down and dine with us, and go home by moonlight,” Mrs. Saunders, a lively young matron with a large country house close by, insisted. “Jimmy’s neglected me terribly these last few months, and as for you, Pamela, I haven’t seen you for a year.”
“I’d love to if we can,” Pamela assured her, “but Jimmy will have to telephone first.”
“Then do be quick about it,” Mrs. Saunders begged. “It doesn’t matter a bit about clothes. We’ve twenty people staying in the house now, and half of us won’t change, if that makes you more comfortable. Jimmy, if you fail at that telephone I’ll never forgive you.”
But Van Teyl, who had caught the little motion of his sister’s head towards the city, proved equal to the occasion. He returned presently, driving the car.
“Got to go,” he announced as he made his farewells. “Can’t be helped, Pamela. Frightfully sorry, Mrs. Saunders, we are wanted up in New York.”
“I was so afraid of it,” she regretted as she waved her adieux.
An hour or so later the city broke before them in murky waves. Pamela, who had been, leaning back in the car, deep in thought, sat up.
“You are a perfect dear, James,” she said. “Do you think you could stand having Mr. Fischer to dinner one evening this
“Sure!” he replied, a little curiously. “If you want to keep friends with him for any reason, I don’t bear him any ill-will.”'
“I just want to talk to him,” Pamela murmured, “that’s all.”
THERE was a ripple of interest and a good deal of curiosity that afternoon, in the lounge and entrance hall of the Hotel Plaza, when a tall, grey moustached gentleman of military bearing descended from the automobile which had brought him from the station, and handed in his name at the desk, inquiring for Mr. Fischer.
“Will you send my name up — the Baron von Schwerin,” he directed.
The clerk, who had recognized the new-comer, took him under his personal care.
“Mr. Fischer is up in his rooms, expecting you, Baron,” he announced. “If you’ll come this way, I’ll take you up.” The Baron followed his guide to the lift and along the corridor to the suite of rooms occupied by Mr. Fischer and his young friend James Van Teyl. Mr. Fischer himself opened the door. The two men clasped hands fervently, and the clerk discreetly withdrew.
“Back with us once more, Fischer,” Von Schwerin exclaimed fervently. “You are wonderful. Tell me,” he added, looking around, “we are to be alone here?”
“Absolutely,” Fischer replied. “The young man I share these apartments with—James Van Teyl—has taken his sister out to Baltusrol. They will not be back until seven o'clock. We are sure of solitude.”
“Good,” Von Schwerin exclaimed. “And you have news—I can see it in your face.”
Fischer rolled up easy chairs and produced a box of cigars.
“Yes,” he assented, with a little glitter in his eyes, “I have news. Things have moved with me. I think that, with the help of an idiotic Englishman, we shall solve the riddle of what our professors have called the consuming explosive. I sent the formula home to Germany, by a trusty hand, only a few hours ago.”
“Capital!” Von Schwerin declared. “It was arranged in London, that?"
“Partly in London and partly here,” Fischer replied.
Von Schwerin made a grimace.
“If you can find those who are willing to help you here, you are fortunate indeed, he sighed. “My life’s work has lain amongst these people. In the days of peace, all seemed favourable to us. Since the war, even those people whom I thought my friends seem to have lost their heads, to have lost their reasoning powers.”
“After all,” Fischer muttered, “it is race calling to race. But come, we have more direct business on hand. Nikasti is here.”
Von Schwerin nodded a little gloomily.
“Washington knows nothing of his coming.” he observed. “I attended the Baron Yung’s reception last week, informally. I threw out very broad hints, but Yung would not be drawn. Nikasti represents the Secret Service of Japan, unofficially and without responsibility.”
“Nevertheless,” Fischer pointed out, “what he says will reach the ear of his country, and reach it quickly. You’ve gone through the papers I sent you?”
“Carefully,” Von Schwerin replied. “And the autograph letter?”
“That I have,” Fischer announced.
“I will fetch Nikasti.”
He crossed the room and opened the , door leading into the bedchambers.
“Are you there, Kato?” he cried.
“I am coming, sir,” was the instant reply.
NIKASTI appeared, a few moments later. He was carrying a dress-coat on his arm, and he held a clothes-brush in his hand. It was obvious that he had studied with nice care the details of his new part.
“You can sit down, Nikasti,” Fischer invited. “This is the Baron Von Schwerin. He has something to say to Nikasti bowed very low. He declined the chair, however, to which Fischer pointed.
“I am your valet and the valet of Mr. Van Teyl,” he murmured. “It is not fitting for me to be seated. I listen.”
Von Schwerin drew his chair a little nearer.
“I plunge at once,” he said, “into the middle of things. There is always the fear that we may be disturbed.”
Nikasti inclined his head.
“It is best,” he agreed.
“You are aware,” Von Schwerin continued, “that the Imperial Government of Germany has already made formal overtures, through a third party, to the Emperor of Japan with reference to an alteration in our relations?”
“There was talk of this in Tokio,” Nikasti observed softly. “Japan, however, is under obligations—treaty obligations. Her honour demands that these should be kept.”
“The honour of a country,” Baron von Schwerin acknowledged, “is, without doubt, a sacred charge upon her rulers, but above all things in heaven or on earth, the interests of her people must be their first consideration. If a time should come when the two might seem to clash, then it is the task of the statesman to recognise this fact.”
“It is spoken,” he confessed, “like a great man.”
“Your country," Von Schwerin continued, “is at war with mine because it seemed to her rulers that her interests lay with the Allies rather than with Germany. I will admit that my country was at fault. We did not recognize to its full extent the value of friendship with Japan. We did not bid high enough for your favours. Asia concerned us very little. We looked upon the destruction of our interes's there in the same spirit as that with which we contemplated the loss of our colonies. All that might happen would be temporary. Our influence in Asia, our colonies, will remain with us or perish, according to the result of the war in Europe. But our statemen overlooked one thing.”
“Our factories,” Nikasti murmured.
“Precisely! We have had our agents all over the world for years. Some are good, a few are easily deceived. There is no country in the world where apparently so much liberty is granted to foreigners as in Japan. There is no country where the capacity for manufacture and output has been so grossly under-estimated by our agents, as yours."
“I had something to do with that,” he announced. “It was Karl Neumann, was it not, on whom you replied? I supplied him with much information.”
Von Schwerin’s face clouded for a moment.
“You mean that you fooled him, I suppose,” he said. “Well, it is all part of the game. That is over now. We want your exports to Russia stopped.”
“Ah!” Nikasti murmured reflectively. “Stopped !”
“We ask no favours,” Von Schwerin continued. “The issue of this war is written across the face of the skies for those who care to read them.”
Nikasti looked downwards at the dress-coat which he was carrying. Then he glanced up at Von Schwerin.
“Perhaps our eyes have been dazzled,” he said. “Will you not interpret?”
“The end of the war will be a peace of exhaustion,” Von Schwerin explained. “Our loftier dreams of conquest we must abandon. Germany has played her part, but Austria, alas, has failed. Peace will leave us all very much where we were. Very well, then, I ask you, what has Japan gained? You answer China? I deny it. Yet even if it were true, it will take you five hundred years to make a great country of China. Suppose for a moment you had been on the other side. What about Australia ? —New Zealand?”
“Are those things under present consideration?” Nikasti queried.
“Why not?” Von Schwerin replied. “Listen. Close your exports to Russia within the next thirty days. Build up for yourselves a stock of ammunition, add to your fleet, and prepare. Within a year of the cessation of war, there is no reason why your national dream should not be realised. Your fleet may sail for San Francisco. The German Fleet shall make a simultaneous attack upon the eastern coast of Massachusetts and New York.”
“The German Fleet,” Nikasti repeated. “And England?”
Von Schwerin’s eyes flashed for a moment.
“If the English Fleet is still in being,” he declared, “it will be a crippled and defeated fleet, but, for the sake of your point of view, I will assume that it exists. Even then there will be nothing to prevent the German Fleet from steaming in what waters it pleases. If our shells fall upon New York on the day when your warships are sighted off the Californian coast, do you suppose that America could resist? With her seaboard, her fleet is contemptible. For her wealth, her army is a farce. She has neglected for a great many years to pay her national insurance. She is the one country in the world who can be bled for the price of empires.”
Fischer, who had been smoking furiously, spat out the end of a fresh cigar.
“It will be a just retribution,” he interposed, with smothered fierceness. “Under the guise of neutrality, America has been responsible for the lives of hundreds of thousands of my countrymen. That we never can, we never shall, forget. The wealth which makes these people fat is blood-money, and Germany will take her vengeance.”
“For whom do you speak?” Nikasti inquired.
Von Schwerin rose from his place.
“For the greatest of all.”
“Do I take anything but words to Tokio?” the Japanese asked softly.
Kischer unfolded a pocket-book and drew from it a parchment envelope.
“You take this letter,” he said, "which I brought over myself from Berlin, signed and written not more than three weeks ago. I ask you to believe in no vague promise. I bring you the pledged faith of the greatest ruler on earth. What do you say, Nikasti? Will you accept our mission? Will you go back to Tokio and see the Emperor?”
“I will go back,” he promised. “I will sail as soon as I can make arrangements. But I cannot tell you what the issue may be. We Japanese are not a self-seeking nation. I cannot tell what answer our sovereign may give to this.”
To be continued.