The Pawns Count
A Story of Secret Service and the Great War
E. Phillips Oppenheim
Author of “Mr. Grex of Monte Carlo,” “The Double Traitor," etc.
THESE are the days when the truest patriotism demands the most sublime sacrifices,” Von Schwerin declared. “Above all the ethics of individuals comes the supreme necessity of self-preservation.
The Japanese smiled slightly.
“Ah!” he said, “there speaks the philosophy of your country, Baron, the paean of materialism.”
“The destinies of nations,” Baron von Schwerin exclaimed, “are above the manmade laws of a sentimental religion! One needs, nowadays, more than to survive. It is necessary to flourish.”
Nikasti stood suddenly to attention.
“It is Mr. Van Teyl who returns,” he warned them.
He glided from the room, shaking out a little the dress-coat which he had been carrying. The two men looked after him. Fischer threw his cigar savagely away and lit another. “Curse these Orientals!” he muttered. “They listen and listen, and one never knows. Van Teyl won’t b* here for hours. That was just an excuse to get But there was a smile of triumph on Von Schwerin’s lips. “I know them better than you do. Fischer,” he declared. “Nikasti is our man!”
HIGH up in one of the topmost chambers of the Hotel Plaza, in one of those long, tongue-like extensions of brick and steel, reared as though by an afterthought for the housing of the hotel servants, Nikasti, after his conference with Von Schwerin and Fischer, sought solitude. He opened the high windows, out of which he could scarcely see, dragged up a chest of drawers and perched himself, Oriental fashion, on the top, his long yellow fingers intertwined around his knees, his soft brown eyes travelling over the Park, losing themselves in the wooded slopes on the other side of the Hudson. He was away from the clamour of tongues, from the poisoned clouds of sophistry, even from the disturbance of his own thoughts, incited by specious arguments to some form of reciprocity. Here he sat in the clouds and searched for the true things. His eyes seemed to be travelling over the battlefields of Europe. He saw the swaying fortunes of mighty armies, he looked into council chambers, he seemed to feel the pulses of the great world force which kept going this most amazing Juggernaut. He saw the furnaces of Japan, blazing by night and day; saw the forms of hundreds of thousands of his fellow-
creatures bent to their task; saw the streams of ships leaving his ports, laden down with stores; saw the great guns speeding across Siberia, the endless trains of ammunition, the rifles, food for the famine-stricken giants who beat upon the air with empty fists. He saw the gold come streaming back. He saw it poured into the banks, the pockets of the merchants, the homes of his people. He saw brightening days throughout the land. He saw the slow but splendid strength of the nation rejoicing in its new possibilities. And beyond that, what? Wealth was the great means towards the great end, but if the great end were once lost sight of there was no more hideous poison than that stream of enervating prosperity. He remembered his own diatribes concerning the decadence of England; how he had pointed to the gold poison, to the easy living of the poor, the blatant luxury of the rich. He had pointed to the soft limbs, the cities which had become pools of sensuality, to the daily life which, calling for no effort, had seen the passing of the spirit and the triumph of the gross. And
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. She gives him a document believing it to be the formula. Immediately Fischer and Baron Schwerin, a German envoy, give Nikasti a message to be delivered by him to the Japanese Emperor, proposing a secret treaty between the two countries.
what about his own people? Mankind was the same the world over. The gold which was bringing strength and life to the nation might very soon exude the same poisonous fumes, might very soon be laying its thrall upon a people to whom living had become an easier thing. However it might be for other, the Western nations, for his own he firmly believed that war alone, with its thousand privations, its call to the chivalry of his people, was the one great safeguard. China! The days had gone by when the taking of China could inspire. It was to greater things they must look. Australia! New Zealand ! Had any Western race the right to flaunt her Empire’s flag in Asiatic seas? And America! Once again he felt the slow rising of wrath as he recalled the insults of past years . the adventurous sons of his country treated like savages and negroes by that uncultured, strong-limbed race of coarsefibred, unimaginative materialists. There was a call, indeed, to the soul of his country to avenge, to make safe, the homes and lives of her colonists. Across the seas he looked into the council chambers of the wise men of his race. He saw the men whose word would tell. He watched their faces turned towards him, waiting; heard the beginning of the conflict of thoughts and minds — blind fidelity to the cause which they had espoused, or a rougher, more splendid, more selfish stroke for the greatness of Japan and Japan only. “If we break our faith we lose our Honor,” one murmured. “There is no honor save the care of my people,” he heard one of his greatest countrymen reply. ... So he sat and thought, revolved in his mind arguments, morals, philosophy. It was the problem which had confronted the great Emperor, his own ancestor, who had lived for three months on the floor of the Temple, asking but one question of the Silent Powers: “Through what gate shall I lead my nation to greatness? ....
' I ' H E senses of the man who crouched in the curious attitude, with his eyes still piercing the heavens, were mobile and extraordinary things. No disturbing sounds had reached him from outside. His isolation seemed complete and impregnable. Yet, without turning his head, he was perfectly conscious of the slow opening of the door. His whole frame stiffened, lie was conscious for one bitter second of a lapse from the careful guarding of his ways. That second passed, however, and left him prepared even for danger, his brain and muscles alike tense. He turned his head. The expression of slow surprise, which even parted his lips and narrowed his eyes, was only half assumed.
“What do you wish?” he asked.
Lutchester did not for a moment reply. He had closed the door behind him carefully. He was looking around the room now with evident interest. Its bareness of furniture and decoration were noteworthy, but on the top of the ugly chest of drawers was a great bowl of roses, a queer little ivory figure set in an arched frame of copper—a figure almost sacerdotal, with its face turned towards the east—and a little show of rose leaves, which could scarcely have fallen there by accident, at the foot of the pedestal. Lutchester inclined his head gravely, as he looked towards it, a gesture entirely reverential, almost an obeisance. Nikasti’s eyes were clouded with curiosity. He slipped down to the ground.
“I have travelled in your country,” Lutchester said gravely, as though in explanation. “I have visited your temples. I may say that I have prayed there.”
“And now?” Nikasti asked.
“I am for my country what you are for yours,” Lutchester proceeded. “You see, I know when it is best to speak the truth. I am in New York because you are in New York, and if you leave on Saturday for Japan it may happen—of this I am not sure—but I say that it may happen that I shall accompany you.”
“I shall be much honored,” Nikasti murmured.
“You came here,” Lutchester continued, “to meet an emissary from Berlin. Your country, which could listen to no official word from any one of her official enemies, can yet, through you, learn what is in their minds. You have seen to-day Fischer and the Baron Von Schwerin. Fischer has probably presented to you the letter which he has brought from Berlin. Von Schwerin has expounded further the proposition and the price which form part of his offer.”
Nikasti’s face was imperturbable, but there was trouble in his eyes.
“You have found your way to much knowledge,” he muttered.
“I must find my way to more. I must know what Germany offers you. I must know what is at the back of your mind when you repeat this offer in Tokio.”
“You can make, then, the unwilling speak?” Nikasti demanded.
“Strange things have been done for the cause which such as you and I revere.”
Nikasti showed his white teeth for a moment in a smile meant to be contemptuous.
“It is a great riddle, this, which we toss from one to the other,” he observed. “I am the simple valet of two gentlemen living ii^ the hotel. You have listened, perhaps, to fairy tales, or dreamed them yourself, sir.”
“It is no fairy tale,”
“that you are Prince Nikasti, the third son of the great Marquis Ato, that you and I met more than once in London when you were living there some years ago; that you travelled through our country, and drew up so scath-
ing an indictment of our domestic and industrial position that, but for their clumsy diplomacy, your country would probably have made overtures to Germany. Ever sincé those days I have wondered about you. I have wondered whether you are with your country in her friendship towards England.”
“I have no friends but my country’s friends,” Nikasti declared, “no enemies save her enemies. But to-day those things of which you have spoken do not concern me. I am the Japanese valet of Mr. Fischer and Mr. Van Teyl.”
Lutchester, as though by accident, came a step further into the room. Nikasti’s eyes never left his face. Perhaps at that moment each knew the other’s purpose, though their tongues clung to the other things.
“Will you talk to me, Japan?” Lutchester asked calmly. “You have listened to Germany.
I am England.”
“If you have anything to say,” Nikasti replied,
“Baron Yung is at Washington.”
“You and I know well," Lutehester continued, “that ambassadors are but the figureheads in the world’s history.
Speak to me of the things which concern our nations, Nikasti.
Tell me of the letter you bear
to the Emperor. You have nothing to lose. Sit down and talk to me, man to man. You have heard Germany. Hear England. Tell me of the promises made to you within the last hour, and I* will show you how they can never be kept. Let us talk of your country’s future. You and I can tell one another much.”
“A valet knows nothing,” Nikasti murmured.
Lutchester came a step nearer. Nikasti, in retreating, was now almost in a corner of the room.
“Listen,” Lutchester went on, “for many years I have suspected that you are an enemy of my country. That is the reason why, when our Intelligence Department learnt of your mission, I chose to come myself
to meet you. And now we meet, Nikasti, face to face, and all that you are willing to do for your country, I am willing to do for mine, and unless you sit down and talk this matter out with me as man to man, you will not leave New York.”
The arm of the Japanese stole with the most perfect naturalness inside his coat, and Lutchester knew then that the die was cast. The line of blue steel flashed out too late. The hand which gripped the strangely-shaped little knife was held as though in a vice, and Lutchester’s other arm was suddenly thrown around the neck of his assailant, his fingers pressed against his windpipe.
“Drop the knife,” he ordered.
It fell clattering on to the hard floor. Nikasti, however, twisted himself almost free, took a flying leap sideways, and seized his adversary’s leg. In another moment he came down upon the floor with a crash. Lutchester’s grip upon him, a little crueller now, was like a band of “There are many ways of playing this game. It is you who have chosen this one,” he said. “It’s no use, Nikasti. I know as much of your own science as you do. You’re my man now until I choose to let you free, and before I do that I am going to read the letter which you are taking to Japan.”
Nikasti’s eyes were red wit every movement was torture, held him easily with one hand, felt over him with the other, drew the letter from his vest, and, shaking it free from its envelope, held it out and read it When he had finished, he replaced it in the envelope and pushed it back into the other’s breast-pocket.
“Now,” he directed, “you can get up.”
Nikasti scrambled to his feet There were livid marks under his eyes. For a moment he had lost all his vitality, he was like a beaten creature.
“You would never have done this,” he muttered, “ten years ago. I grow old.”
“So that is the letter which you are taking to your Emperor!” Lutchester said. “You think it worth while! You can really see the German fleet steaming past the British Isles, out into the Atlantic, and bombarding New York!”
Nikasti made no reply.
Lutchester looked at him for a moment thoughtfully. There was a light once more in the beaten man’s eyes—a queer, secretive gleam. Lutchester stooped down and picked up the knife from the floor.
“Nikasti,” he enjoined,
“listen to me, for your country’s sake. The promise contained in that letter is barely worth the paper it is written on, so long as the British fleet remains what it is.
But, apart from that, I tell you here of my own profound conviction — and I will prove it to you before many days are past —Germany does not intend to keep this promise.”
Nikasti made no reply. His face wi.; expressionless.
“Germany has but one idea,” Lutchester continued. “She means to play you and America off against one another. I have found out her offer to you. All I can say is, if you take it seriously you are not the man I think you. Now I will tell you what I am going to do. I am going to find out her offer to America. I will bring that to you, and you shall see the two side by side. Then you shall know how much you can rely upon a country whose diplomacy is bred and born of lies, who cheats at every move of the game, who makes you a deliberate offer here which she never has the least intention of keeping. Have you anything to say to me, Nikasti?”
Nikasti raised his eyes for one moment.
“I have nothing to say,” he replied. “I am the valet of Mr. Fischer and Mr. Van Teyl. These things are not of my concern.”
Lutchester shrugged his shoulders.
“Whatever you may be,” he concluded, “and however much you may resent all that has happened, I know that you will wait I might g o direct t o Wash in gton, but I prefer to come to you, if it remains pos-
sible. Before you leave this country we will meet again, and, when you have heard me, you will tear that letter which you are treasuring next your heart into
Lutchester turned and left the room, closing the door behind him. Nikasti crouched in his place without movement. The ache in his heart seemed to be shining out of his fâce. He turned slowly towards the little figure of black ivory, his head drooped lower—he was filled with a great shame.
U'ISCHER raised his eyebrows in mild ^ surprise to find Nikasti waiting for him in the sitting-room that evening, with his overcoat and evening hat. He closed the door of the bedroom from which he had issued carefully behind him.
“You don’t need to go on with this business now that we have had our little talk,” he remonstrated.
•*I cannot leave until the twentieth,” Nikasti replied. “I think it best that I remain here. Your cocktail, sir.v
Fischer accepted the glass with a goodhumored little laugh.
"Well,” he said, “I suppose you know what you want to do, but it seems to me unnecessary. Say, is anything wrong with you? You seem shaken, somehow.”
“I am quite well,” Nikasti declared gravely. “I am very well indeed.”
Fischer stared at him searchingly from behind his spectacles.
“You don’t look it,” he observed. “If you’ll take my advice, you’ll get away from here and rest somewhere quietly for a few days. Why don’t you try one of the summer hotels on Long Island?”
Nikasti shook his head.
“Until I sail,” he decided. “I stay here. It is better so.”
“You know best, of course," Fischer replied. “Where’s Mr. Van Teyl?”
“He has gone out with his sister, sir— the young lady in the next suite,” Nikasti announced.
Fischer sighed for a moment Then he finished his cocktail, drew on his gloves, and turned towards the door.
“Well, good night," he said. “Perhaps you are wise to stay here. Remember always what it is that you carry about with “I shall remember,” Nikasti promised.
Fischer entered his automobile and drove to a fashionable res-
taurant in the neighborhood of Fifth Avenue. Arrived here, he made his way to a room on the first floor, into which he was ushered by one of the head-waiters. Von Schwerin was already there, talking with a little company of men.
“Ah, our friend Fischer!” the latter exclaimed. “That makes our number complete.”
A waiter handed around cocktails. Fischer smiled as he raised his glass to his lips.
“It is something, at least,” he confided, “to be back in a country where one can speak freely. I raise my arm. Von Schwerin and gentlemen—‘To the Fatherland!’ ”
They all drank fervently and with a little guttural murmur. Von Schwerin set down his empty glass. He was looking a little glum.
“In many ways, my dear Fischer,” he said, “one sympathizes with that speech of yours; but the truth is best, and it is to talk truths that we have met this evening. We are gaining no ground here. I am not sure that we are not losing.”
There was a moment’s disturbed and agitated silence.
“It is bad to hear,” one little man ack n o w 1 edged, with a sigh, “but who can doubt it? There is a
fever which has caught hold of this country, which blazes in the towns and smoulders in the country places, and that is the fever of money-making. Men are blinded with the passion of it. They tell me that even Otto Schmidt in Milwaukee has turned his great factories into ammunition works.”
Von Schwerin’s eyes flashed.
“Let him be careful,” he muttered, “that one morning those are not blackened walls upon which he looks! We go to dinner, now, gentlemen, and, until we are alone afterwards, not one word concerning the great things."
THE partition doors leading into the dining-room were thrown back and the little company of men sat down to dine. There were fourteen of them, and their names were known throughout the world. There was a steel millionaire, half-adozen Wall Street magnates, a clothing manufacturer, whose house in Fifth Avenue was reputed to have cost two millions. There was not one of them who was not a patriot—to Germany. They ate and drank through the courses of an abnormally long dinner with the businesslike thoroughness of their race. When at last the coffee and liqueurs had been served, the waiters by pre-arrangement disappeared, and with a little flourish Van Schwerin locked the door. Once more he raised his glass.
“To the Kaiser and the Fatherland!" he cried in a voice thick with emotion.
For a moment a little flash of something almost like spirituality lightened the gathering. They were at least men with a purpose, and an unselfish purpose.
"Fischer,” Von Schwerin said, “my friends all of you, you know how strenuous my labors have been during the last year. You know that three times the English Ambassador has almost demanded my recall, and three times the matter has hung in the balance. I have watched events in Washington, not through my own, but through a thousand eyes. My fingers are on the pulse of the country, so what I say to you needs nothing in the way of substantiation. The truth is best. Notwithstanding all my efforts, and the efforts of every one of you, the great momentum of public feeling, from California to Massachusetts, has turned slowly towards the cause of our enemies. Washington is hopelessly against us. The huge supplies which leave these shores day by day for England and France will continue. Fresh plants are being laid down for the manufacture of weapons and ammunition to be used against our country. The hand of diplomacy is powerless. We can struggle no longer. Even those who favor our cause are drunk with the joy of the golden harvest they are reaping. This country has spoken once and for all, and its voice is for our most hated enemy.”
There were a variety of guttural and sympathetic ejaculations. A dozen earnest faces turned towards Von Schwerin.
“Diplomacy,” Von Schwerin continued, “has failed. We come to the next step. There have been isolated acts of selfsacrifice, splendid in themselves, but systemless. Only the day before yesterday a great factory at Detroit was burned to the ground, and I can assure you, gentlemen, I who know, that a thousand bales of cloth, destined for France, lie in a charred heap amongst the ruins. That fire was no accident.”
There was a brief silence. Fischer nodded approvingly. Von Schwerin filled his glass.
“This,” he went on, “was the individual act of a brave and faithful patriot. The time has come for us, too, to remember that we are at war. I have striven for you with the weapons of diplomacy and I have failed. I ask you now to face the situation with me—to make use of the only means left to us.”
No one hesitated. Possibly ruin stared them in the face, but not one flinched. Their heads drew closer together. They discussed the ways and means of the new campaign.
“We must add largely to our numbers,” Von Schwerin said, “and we had better have a fund. So far as regards money, I take it for granted-”
There was a little chorus of fierce whispers. Five million dollars were subscribed by men who were willing, if necessary, to find fifty.
“It is enough,” their leader assured them. “Much of our labors will be amonst those to whom money is no object. Only remember, all of you, this. We shall be a society without a written word, with no roll of membership, without documents or institutions, for complicity in the things which follow will mean ruin. You are willing to face that?”
AGAIN that strange, passionate instinct of unanimity prevailed. To all appearance it was a gathering of commonplace, commercialized and bourgeois, easy-living men, but the touch of the spirit was there. Fischer leaned a little forward.
“In two months’ time,” he said, “every factory in America which is earning its blood-money shall be in danger. There will be a reign of terror. Each State will operate independently and secretly.” “Our friend Fischer,” Von Schwerin told them, “has promised to stay over here for the present to organize this undertaking. I, alas! am bound to remain always a little aloof, but the time may come, and very soon, too, when I shall be a free lance. On that day I shall throw my lot in with yours, to the last drop of my blood and the last hour of my liberty. Until then, trust Oscar Fischer. He has done great deeds already. He will show you the way to more.”
Fischer took off his spectacles and wiped them.
“Our first proceeding,” he said, “sounds paradoxical. It must be that we cease to exist. There can be no longer any meetings amongst us who stand in this country for Germany. Gatherings of this sort are finished. We meet, one or two of us, perhaps, by accident, in the cluhs and in the streets, in our houses and perhaps in the restaurants, but the bond which unites us, and which no human power could ever sever because it is of the spirit, that bond from to-night is intangible. Wait, all of
you, for a message. The task given to each shall not be too great.”
Mr. Max H. Bookam, a little blackbearded man who had started life tailoring in a garret, and was now a multimillionaire, raised his glass.
“No task shall seem too great,” he muttered. “No risk shall make us afraid. Even the exile shall take up his burden.”
MR. FISCHER’S business later on that night led him into unsavory parts. He left his car at the corner of Fourteenth Street, and, after a moment’s reflection, as though to refresh his memory, he made his way slowly eastwards. He wore an unusually shabby overcoat, and a felt hat drawn over his eyes, both of which garments he had concealed in the automobile. Even then, however, his appearance made him an object of some comment. A little gang of toughs first jostled him and then turned and followed in his footsteps. A man came out of the shadows, and they broke away with an oath.
“That cop’ll get his head broke some day,” Fischer heard one of them mutter, with appropriate adjectives.
There were others who looked curiously at him. One man’s hand he felt running over his pockets as he pushed past him. A couple of women came screaming down the street and seized him by the arms. He shook himself free, and listened without a word to their torrent of abuse. The lights here seemed to burn more dimly. Even the flares from the drinking dens seemed secretive, and the shadowy places impenetrable. It was before a saloon that at last he paused, listened for a moment to the sound of a cracked piano inside, and entered. The place was packed, and, fortunately for him, a scrap of some interest between two villainous-looking Italians in a distant corner was occupying the attention of many of the patrons. A man with white, staring face was banging at a crazy piano without a movement of his body, his whole energies apparently directed towards drowning the tumult of oaths and hideous execrations which came from the two combatants. A drunken Irishman, rolling about on the floor, kicked at him savagely as he passed. An undersized little creature, with the face of an old man, but the figure of a boy, marked him from a distant corner and crept stealthily towards his side. Fischer reached the counter at last and stood there a moment, waiting. Two huge roughlooking negroes, in soiled linen clothes, were dispensing the drinks. As one of them passed, Fischer struck the counter with his forefinger, six or seven times, observing a particular rhythm. The negro started, turned his heavily-lidded, repulsive eyes upon Fischer, and nodded slightly. He handed out the drink he had in his hand, and leaned over the counter. “Want the boss?” he demanded. Fischer assented. The negro lifted the flap of the counter and opened a trapdoor, leading apparently into a cellar be-
“Step right down,” he muttered. “Don’t let the boys catch on. Get out of that, Tim,” he added thickly to the dwarf-like figure, whose slender finger's were suddenly nearing Fischer’s neck.
'T'HE creature seemed to melt away.
1 Fischer dived and descended a dozen steps or so into another bare-looking apartment, the door of which was half
open. There were three men seated at the solitary deal table, which was almost the only* article of furniture to be seen. One, sombrely dressed in legal black, with a pale face and fiercely inquiring eyes, half rose to his feet as the newcomer entered. Another’s hand went to his hip pocket. The man who was sitting between the two, however—-a great red-headed Irishman—rose to his feet and pushed them back to their places.
“There’s no cause for alarm, now, boys,” he declared. “This is a friend of mine. I won’t make you acquainted, because we’re all better friends strangers down in these parts. Hop it off, you two. Sit down here, Mr. Stranger.
The two men stole away. The Irishman poured out a glassful of neat whisky and passed it to his visitor.
“Clients of mine,” he explained. , "Tim Crooks is in politics. Got your message, boss. What’s the figure?”
The Irishman whistled and looked thoughtfully down at the table.”
“Isn’t it enough?” Fischer asked. “Enough?” was the hoarse reply. “Why, there isn’t one of my toughs that wouldn’t go rat-hunting for a quarter of that. If it’s any one in these parts, twelve hours is all I want.”
The Irishman’s face fell.
“Some swell, I suppose? Fifth Avenue way and the swagger parts, eh?”
Fischer assented silently. His host poured himself out some whisky and drank it as though it were water.
“You see, boss,” he pointed out, “it’s no use sending greenhorns out on a job like that, because they only squeak if they’re pinched, and pinched they’re sure to be; and all my regulars are what we call in sanctuary.
“You mean they are hiding already?” “That’s some truth,” was the grim admission. "The cops ain’t going to trouble to come after ’em, so long as they keep here, but thev’d nab ’em fast enough if they showed their noses beyond the end of Fourteenth. Still, I’d like to oblige you, guvnor. I don’t know who you are, and don’t want, but my boys speak fine of you. You know Ed. Swindles?”
“Not by name,” Fischer confessed.
“He did that little job up at Detroit,” the Irishman went on, dropping his voice a little. “I tell, you he’s a genius at handling a bomb, is Ed. Blew that old factory into brick-ends, he did. He’s in the saloon upstairs—got his girl with him. They’ve been doing a round of the dancing saloons.”
“That’s all right, but what about this job?” Fischer inquired, a little impati-
The Irishman glanced behind him. Then he dropped his voice a little.
“Look here, guvnor,” he said. “I’ve some idea, if it pans out. You’ve heard of the Heste case?”
“You mean the girl who was murdered?”
“Yes! Well, the chap that did it is within a few feet of where we’re sitting.” Fischer took off his spectacles and rubbed them. In the dim light his face looked more grim and powerful than ever.
“Isn’t that a little dangerous?” he observed. “The police mean having him.” “You’re dead right,” the Irishman replied. “They’ve got to have him, and he knows it. They’d keep their hands off any one in these parts if they could, but
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The Pawns Count
Continued from page 32.
this bloke’s different. He done it too thick, and he’s got the public squealing. Now if we could get him out for long enough, he's the man for your job. Come right along, boss.”
TT E rose heavily to his feet, crossed
*■ the room, and threw open the door of what was little more than a cupboard at the further end. The place was in darkness, but a human form sprang suddenly upright. His white face and glaring eyes were the only visible objects in a shroud of darkness.
“That’s all right, kid,” the Irishman said soothingly. “No cops yet. This is a gentleman on business. Wait till I fix a light.”
He stepped back, and brought a candle from the table at which he had been seated. Fischer helped him light it, and by degrees the interior of the little apartment was illuminated. Its contents were almost negligible — there was simply a foul piece of rug in the corner, and a broken chair. With his back to the wall crouched a slim, apparently young man, with a perfectly bloodless face and black eyes under which were blue lines. His clothes were torn and covered with dust, as though he had dragged himself about the floor, and one of his hands was bleeding.
“The gentleman’s on business, Jake,” his host repeated.
“Give me some whisky,” the young man mumbled.
The Irishman shaded his eyes.
“Holy Moses! why you’ve finished that bottle!” he exclaimed.
“It’s like water,” the fugitive replied in a hot whisper. “I drink and I feel nothing, I taste nothing—I forget nothing! Give me something stronger.”
He tossed off without hesitation the tumbler half full of whisky which his guardian fetched him. Then he came out.
“I’m sick of this,” he declared. “I’ll sit
at your table. It’s no use talking to me of jobs,” he went on. “I couldn’t get out of here. I made for the docks, but they headed me off. They know where I am. They’ll get me sooner or later.”
“Yes, they’ll have you right enough,” the Irishman assented; “but if there was any chance in the world, this gent could give it to you. He’s got a job he wants done up amongst the swells in Fifth Avenue, and there’s money enough in it to buy Anna herself, if you want her. Anna’s our real toff down here,” he explained, turning to Fischer, “and all the boys are crazy about her.”
Jake shook his head, unimpressed. Ha fixed his eyes upon Fischer, moistened his lips a little, and spoke in a sort of croaky whisper.
“Money’s no use to me,” he said, “nor women either—I’m through with them. You know what I done? I killed my girl. That’s what I’m going to the chair for. But if I could get out of this, I’d do your job. I’m kind of hating people. I can’t get my girl’s face out of my mind. Perhaps if I did your job I’d have another one to think about.”
“Pleasant company, ain’t he?” the Irishman grunted. “He’s the real goods.” Fischer stared at the young man as though fascinated. He seemed beyond any outside human comprehension. Their host was sitting with his hands in his pockets and his feet on another chair. The braces hung from his shoulders upon the floor, his collarless shirt had fallen a little open. His face, with its little tuft of red side-whiskers and unshaven chin, was reminiscent of the forests.
“If you want this job fixed, Mr. Stranger,” he said, “I don’t know as Jake here couldn’t take it on. It’d have to be done like this. Jake’s a real toney chauffeur— drive anything. If you had your automobile at a spot I could tell you of one evening, just at dusk, I might get him that far, in a set of chauffeur’s clothes. Once on the box of your auto, he’d be out of this and could give ’em the slip for a bit. It’s the only way I can think of, of getting him near the game.”
“The arrangement would suit me,” Fischer admitted.
Jake suddenly showed a gleaming set of unexpectedly white teeth. His eyes stared more than ever.
“I’m game! I’m on to this,” he cried fiercely. “You can have all there is coming to me, Sullivan, if I get nabbed, but I’m going to take my risk. I hate this hole! It’s a rat’s den.”
“Then get you back to your cupboard, Jake,” the Irishman enjoined. “I’ve got to talk business to the gent.”
THE young man rose to his feet. He took the bottle of whisky under his arm. His face was still ashen, but his tone was steady. He gripped Fischer by the arm.
“I will do your job,” he promised. "1 will do it thoroughly.”
He slouched across the floor, entered his cupboard, and disappeared. Fischer was suddenly aware of the moisture upon his forehead. There was something animallike, absolutely inhuman, about this creature with whom he had made his murderous bargain.
“I have no money here, of course,” he reminded his companion.
“Don’t know as I blame you, guv’nor," the other observed with a grin. “I saw my toughs lay out a guy only the other day for flashing a smaller wad than you’d
carry. You know the rules, and 1 guess I’ll ring up the bank to-morrow morning at eleven o’clock. Does that go?”
“You’ll find the deposit there,” Fischer promised. “Y'ou’d better let me know when he’s ready to take the job on.”
The Irishman walked to the foot of the steps with his visitor.
“Give Joe the double knock on the trapdoor,” he directed, “and get out of the saloon as quick as you can. There’s a Dago about there keeps our hands full. Got anything with you?”
Fischer nodded. His hand stole out of his overcoat pocket.
“Better give them one if they look like trouble,” his host advised. “They’ve plenty of spunk, but I can tell you they make tracks for their holes if they hear one of those things bark.”
“They shall hear it fast enough, if they try to hustle me,” Fischer observed grimly.
“You’ve some pluck,” the Irishman declared, as he watched his departing guest ascend the steps. “Sure, this is no place for cowards, any way. And good night and good luck to you! Jake will do your job slick, if any one could.”
Fischer beat his little tattoo upon the trapdoor, crawled through it and underneath the flap in the counter, out into the saloon. He paused for a moment to look around, on his way to the door. The fight was apparently over, for everyone was standing at the counter, drinking with a swarthy-faced man whose cheeks were stained with blood. F rom a distant corner came the sound of groans. The air seemed heavier than ever with foul tobacco smoke. The man at the piano still thrashed out his unmelodious chords. Some women in a corner were pretending to dance. One or two of them looked curiously at Fischer, but he passed out, unchallenged. Even the air of the slum outside seemed pure and fresh after the heated den he had left. He reached the corner of the street in safety and stepped quickly into his car. He threw both windows wide open and murmured an order to the chauffeur. Then he leaned back and closed his eyes for a moment. He was a man not overburdened with imagination, but it seemed to him just then that he would never be able altogether to forget the face of that ghastly, dehumanized creature, crouching like some terrified wild animal in his fetid refuge.
MRS. THEODORE HASTINGS was forty-eight years old, which her friends said was the reason why her mansion on Fifth Avenue was furnished and lit with the delicate sombreness of an old Italian palace. There was about it none of the garishness, the almost resplendent brilliancy associated with the abodes of many of our neighbors. Although her masseuse confidently assured her that she looked twenty-eight, Mrs. Hastings preferred not to put the matter to the test. She received her carefully-selected dinnerguests in a great library with cedarwood walls, furnished with almost Victorian sobriety, and illuminated by myriads of hidden lights. Pamela, being a relative, received the special consideration of an affectionately-bestowed embrace.
“Pamela, my child, wasn't it splendid I heard that you were in New York?” she «xclaimed. “Quite by accident, too. I
think you treat your relatives shame-
Her niece laughed.
“Well, anyhow, you’re the first of them I’ve seen at all, and directly Jim told me he was coming to you, I made him ring up in case you had room for me.”
“Jimmy was a dear,” Mrs. Hastings declared, “and, of course, there couldn’t be \ a time when there wouldn’t be room for you. Even now, at the last moment, though, I haven’t quite made up my mind where to put you. Choose, dear. Will you have a Western bishop or a rather dull Englishman?”
“What is the name of the Englishman?” Pamela asked, with sudden intuition.
“Lutchester, dear. Quite a nice name, but I know nothing about him. He brought letters to your uncle. Rather a queer time for Englishmen to be travelling about, we thought, but still, there he is. Seems to have found some people he knows—and I declare he is coming towards you!”
“I met him in London,” Pamela whispered, “and I never could get on with bishops.”
The dinner-table was large, and ar! ranged with that wonderful simplicity I which Mrs. Hastings had adopted as the 1 keynote of her New York parties. She had taken, in fact, simplicity under her wing and made a new thing of it. There were more flowers than silver, and cutglass than heavy plate. There seemed to be an almost ostentatious desire to conceal the fact that Mr. Hastings had robbed the American public of a good many million dollars.
“Of course,” Pamela declared, as they took their places, and she nodded a greet! ing to some friends around the table, “fate is throwing us together in the most unaccountable manner.”
“I accept its vagaries with resignation,” Lutchester replied. “Besides, it is quite time we met again. You promised to show me New York, and I haven’t seen you for
“I don’t even remember the promise,”
1 Pamela laughed, “but in any case I have changed my mind. I am not sure that you are the nice, simple-minded person you profess to be. I begin to have doubts about you.”
“Interest grows with mystery,” Lutchester remarked complacently. “Let us hope that I am promoted in your mind.” “Well, I am not at all sure. Of course, I am not an Englishman, so it is of no particular interest to me, but if you really came over here on important affairs, I am not sure that I approve of your playing golf the day after your arrival.” “That, perhaps, was thoughtless,” he ! admitted, “but one gets so short of exerj cise on board ship.”
“Of course,” Pamela observed tentatively, “I’d forgive you even now if you’d only be a little more frank with me.”
“I am prepared,” he assured her, “to ; be candor itself.”
i “Tell me,” she begged, “the whole extent of your mission in America?”
He glanced around.
“If we were alone,” he replied, “I might court indiscretion so far as to tell you.” “Then we will leave the answer to that question until after dinner,” she said.
SHE talked to her left-hand neighbor for a few moments, and Lutchester I followed suit. They turned to one anI other again, however, at the first oppor-
I “I have conceived,” she told him, “a great admiration for Mr. Oscar Fischer.”
“A very able man,” Lutchester agreed. “He is not only that," Pamela continued, “but he is a man with large principles and great ideas.”
“Principles!” Lutchester murmured. “Of course, you don’t like him,” Pamela went on, “and I don’t wonder at it. He is thoroughly German, isn’t he?”
“Almost prejudiced, I’m afraid,” Lutchester assented.
“Don’t be silly,” Pamela protested. “Why, he’s German by birth, and although you English people are much too pigheaded to see any good in an enemy, I think you must admit that the way they all hang together—Germans, I mean, all over the world is perfectly wonderful.” “There have been a few remarks of the same sort,” Lutchester reminded her, “about the inhabitants of the British Empire — Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, for instance.”
“As a matter of fact,” Pamela admitted generously, “I consider that your Colonials understand the word patriotism better than the ordinary Englishman. With them, as with the Germans, it is almost a passionate impulse. Your hearts may be in the right places, but you always give one the impression of finding the whole thing rather a bore.”
“Well, so it is,” Lutchester insisted. “Who wants to give up a very agreeable profession and enter upon a career of bloodshed, abandon all one’s habits, and lose most of one’s friends? No, we are honest about that, at any rate! Germany may be enjoying this war. We aren’t’’ “What was your profession?” Pamela inquired.
“Diplomacy,” Lutchester confided. “I intended to become an ambassador.’’ “Do you think you have the requisite gifts?”
“What are they?”
“Secrecy, subtlety, caution, and highlydeveloped intelligence,” she replied. “How’s that?”
“All those gifts,” he assured her, “I possess.”
She fanned herself for a moment and looked at him.
“We are not a modest race ourselves,” she said, “but I think you can give us a lead. By the by, were you playing golf with Senator Hamblin by accident the other afternoon?”
“You mean the old Johnny down at Baltusrol?” he asked coolly. “I picked him up wandering about by the professional’s shed.”
“Did you talk politics with him?”
“We gassed a bit about the war,” Lutchester admitted cheerfully.
Pamela laughed. She leaned a little forward. The buzz of conversation now was insistent all around them.
“Of you two,” she whispered, “I prefer Fischer.”
Lutchester considered the matter for some time.
“Well, there’s no accounting for tastes,” he said presently. “I shouldn’t have thought him exactly your type.”
“He may not be,” Pamela confessed, “but at least he has the courage to speak what is in his mind.”
“So Fischer has taken you into his confidence, has he?” he murmured. “Well, now, that seems queer to me. I should have thought your interests would have lain the other way.”
“As an individual?”
“As an American.”
Continued on page 90.
The Pawns Count
Continued from page 89.
“I am not wholly convinced of that.” “Come,” he protested, “what is the use of a friend from whom you are separated by an unnegotiable space?”
“What unnegotiable space?”
“And why is the Atlantic unnegotiable?”
“Because of a little affair called the British fleet,” Lutchester pointed out.
“There is also,” she reminded him drily, “a German fleet, and they haven’t met
“Ah ! I had almost forgotten there was such a thing,” he murmured. “Where do they keep it?”
“You know. You aren’t nearly so stupid as you pretend to be,” she said, a little impatiently. “I should like you so much better if you would be frank with
“What about those qualifications for my ambassadorial career?” he reminded her. “Secrecy, subtlety, caution.”
“The master of these,” she whispered, rising to her feet in response to her hostess’s signal, “knows when to abandon
Lutchester changed his place to a vacant chair by James Van Teyl’s side.
“I was going to ask you, Mr. Van Teyl,” he inquired, “whether your Japanese servant was altogether a success? I think I shall have to get a temporary servant while I am over here.”
“Nikasti was entirely Fischer’s affair,” Van Teyl replied, “and I can’t say much about him as I have given up my share of the apartments at the Plaza. The fellow’s all right, I dare say, but we hadn’t the slightest use for a valet. The man on the floor’s good enough for anyone.” “By the by,” Lutchester inquired, “is Fischer still in New York?”
“No, he’s in Washington,” Van Teyl replied. “I believe he’s expected back tomorrow. . . . Say, can I ask you a
Lutchester almost imperceptibly drew his chair a little closer.
“Of course you can,” he assented. “What I want to know,” Van Teyl continued confidentially, “is how you get that long run on your cleek shots? I saw you play the seventeenth hole, and it looked to me as though the ball were never going to stop.”
“I have made a special study of that shot,” he confided. “Yes, I can tell you how it’s done, but it needs a lot of practice. It’s done in turning over the wrists sharply just at the moment of impact. You get everything there is to be got into the stroke that way, and you keep the ball low, too.”
“Gee, I must try that!” Van Teyl observed, making spasmodic movements with his wrists. “When could we have a day down at Baltusrol?”
“It will have to be next week, I’m afraid, if you don’t mind,” Lutchester replied. “I’ve a good many appointments in New York, and I may have to go to Washington myself. By the by, I thought our host lived there.”
“So he does,” Van Teyl assented.
“Nowadays, though, it seems to have become the fashion for politicians to own a house up in New York and do some entertaining here. They’re after the-financial interest, I suppose.”
“Is your uncle a keen politician?” “Keen as mustard,” Van Teyl answered. “So’s my aunt. She’d give her soul to have the old man nominated for the Presidency.”
“Any chance of it?’
“Not an earthly! He’ll come a mucker, though, some day, trying. He’d take any outside chance. For a clever man he’s the vainest thing I know.”
Lutchester smiled enigmatically as he followed the example of the others and rose to his feet.
“Even in America, then,” he observed, “your great men have their weaknesses.”
tMSCHER, exactly one week after his ■T nocturnal visit to Fourteenth Street, hurried out of the lift at the Great Central depot, almost tore the newspapers from the book-stall, glanced through them one by one and threw them back. The attendant, open-mouthed, ventured upon a mild protest. Fischer threw him a dollar bill, caught up his handbag, and made for the entrance. He was the first passenger from the Washington Limited to reach the street and spring into a taxi.
“The Plaza Hotel,” he ordered. ‘'Get
It was only a few minutes after nine o’clock, and the streets were clear of heavy traffic. They arrived at the Plaza in less than ten minutes. Fischer tipped the driver lavishly, suffered the hall porter to take his bag, returned his greeting mechanically, and walked with swift haste to the tape machine. He held up the strips with shaking fingers, dropped them again, hurried to the lift, and entered his rooms. Nikasti was in the sitting-room, arranging some flowers. Fischer did not even stop to reply to his reverential greeting.
“Where’s Mr. Van Teyl?” he demanded.
“Mr. Van Teyl has gone away, sir,” was the calm reply. “He left here the day before yesterday. There is a letter.”
Fischer took no notice. He was already gripping the telephone receiver.
“982, Wall,” he said, “an urgent call.”
He stood waiting, his face an epitome of breathing suspense. Soon a voice answered him.
“That the office of Neville, Brooks & Van Teyl?” he demanded. “Yes! Put me through to Mr. Van Teyl. Urgent!”
Another few seconds of waiting, then once more he bent over the instrument
“That you. Van Teyl? . . . Yes,
Fischer speaking. Oh, never mind about that! Listen. What price are AngloFrench? . . No, say about what? . . Ninety-five? . . Sell me a hundred thousand. . What’s that? . . What?
Of course it’s a big deal! Never mind that. I’m good enough, aren’t I? There’ll be no rise that’ll wipe out half a million
. dollars. I’ve got that lying in cash at I Guggenheimer’s. If you need the money, I’ll bring it to you in half an hour. Get out into the market and sell. Damn you, what’s it matter about news? Right! Sorry, Jim. See you later.”
Fischer put down the telephone and wiped his forehead. Notwithstanding the fatigue in his face, there was a glint of triumph there. He laid his hand upon Nikasti’s shoulder.
“My friend,” he said, “there’s big proof coming of what I said to you the other I day. You’ll find that letter you carry will mean a different thing now. There’s news in the air.”
I “There has been a great battle, perhaps?” Nikasti asked slowly.
“All that is to be known you will hear before evening,” Fischer replied. “Tell someone to send me some coffee. I have come through from Washington. I am
He sank a little abruptly into an easy chair, took off his spectacles, and leaned his head back upon the cushions. In the sunlight his face was almost ghastly. A queer sense of weakness had suddenly assailed him. His mind flitted back through a vista of sleepless nights, of strenuous days, of passions held in leash, excitement ground down.
“I am tired,” he said. “Telephone down to the office, Nikasti, for a doctor.”
IKASTI obeyed, and his summons ^ was promptly answered. The doctor who arrived was pleasantly but ominously grave. In the middle of his examination the telephone rang. Fischer, without ceremony, moved to the receiver. It was Van Teyl speaking.
“I’ve got your hundred thousand AngloFrench,” he announced. “It’s done the whole market in, though — knocked the bottom out of it. They’ve fallen a point and a half. Shall I begin to buy back for you? You’ll make a bit,”
“Not a share,” Fischer answered fiercely. “Wait.”
“Have you any news you’re keeping up your sleeve,” Van Teyl persisted.
“If I have, it’s my own affair,” was the curt reply, “ and I don’t tell news over the telephone, any way. Watch the market, and go on selling where you can.”
“I shall do as you order,” Van Teyl replied, “but you’re all against the general tone here. By-the-by, you got my letter?” “I haven’t opened it yet,” Fischer snapped. “What’s the matter?”
“Pamela and I have taken a little flat in Fifty-Eighth St. Seems a little abrupt, but she didn’t want to be alone, and she hates hotels. We felt sure you’d understand.”
“Yes, I understand,” Fischer said. “Good-bye! I’m busy.”
The doctor completed his examination. When he had finished he mentioned his fee.
“You work too hard, and you live in an atmosphere of too great strain. The natural consequences are already beginning to show themselves. If I give you medicine, it will only encourage you to keep on wasting yourself, but you can have medicine if you like.”
“Send me something to take for the next fortnight,” Fischer replied. “After that, I’ll take my chance.”
THE doctor wrote a prescription and took his leave. Fischer leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes. His mind travelled back through these latter days
of his over strenuous life. In such minutes of relaxation, few of which he permitted himself, he realized with bitter completeness the catastrophe which had overtaken him—him, Oscar Fischer, of all men on earth. Into his life of prim purposes, of lofty and yet narrow ambitions, of almost superhuman tenacity, had crept the one weakening strain whose presence in other men he had always scoffed at and derided. There was a new and enervating glamour over the days, a new and hatefully-powerful rival for all his thoughts and dreams. Ten years ago, he reflected sadly, this might have made a different man of him, might have unlocked the gates into another, more peaceful and beautiful world, visions of which had sometimes vaguely disturbed him in his cold and selfish climb. Now it could only mean suffering. This was the first stroke. It was the assertion of humanity which was responsible for his present weakness. How far might it not drag him down?
There should be a fight, at any rate, he told himself, as an hour or two later he made his way downtown. He paid several calls in the vicinity of Wall Street, and finished up in Van Teyl’s office. That young man greeted Him with a certain
“You know the tone of the market’s still against you, Fischer,” he warned him once more.
Fischer threw himself into the client’s easy chair. The furniture in the office seemed less distinct than usual. He was conscious of a certain haziness of outline in everything. Van Teyl’s face, even, was shrouded in a little mist. Then he suddenly found himself fighting fiercely, fighting for his consciousness, fighting against a wave of giddiness, a deadly sinking of the heart, a strange slackening of all his nerve power. The young stockbroker rose hastily to his feet.
“Anything wrong, old fellow?” he asked anxiously.
“A glass of water,” Fischer begged.
He was conscious of drinking it, vaguely conscious that he was winning. Soon the office had regained its ordinary appearance, his pulse was beating more regularly. He had once more the feeling of living—of living, though in a minor key.
“A touch of liver,” he murmured. “What did you say about the markets?”
“You look pretty rotten,” Van Teyl remarked sympathetically. “Shall I send out for some brandy?"
“Not for me,” Fischer scoffed. “I don’t need it What price are Anglo-French?"
“Ninety-four. You’ve only done them in a point, after all, and that’s nominal. I daresay I could get ten thousand back at that.”
“Let them alone,” was the calm reply. “I’ll sell another fifty thousand at ninetyfour.”
“Look here,” Van Teyl said, swinging round in his chair. “I like the business and I know you can finance it, but are you sure that you realize what you are doing? Everyone believes Anglo-French have touched their bottom. They’ve only to go back to where they were—say five points—and you’d lose half a million.”
Fischer smiled a little wearily.
“That small sum in arithmetic,” he remonstrated, “had already passed through my brain. Send in your selling order, Jim, and come out to lunch with me. I’ve come straight through from Washington on the Limited—only got in at nine o’clock this morning.”
Van Teyl called in his clerk and gave a
few orders. Then he took up his hat and left the off’"0 with his client.
“From Washington, eh?” he remarked curiously, as they passed into the crowded streets. “So that accounts-”
He broke off abruptly. His companion’s warning fingers had tightened upon his arm.
“Quite right!” Van Teyl confessed. “There’s gossip enough about now, and they seem to have tumbled to it that you're our client. The office has been besieged this morning. Sorry, Ned, I’m busy,” he went on, to a man who tried to catch his arm. “See you later, Fred. I’ll be in after lunch, Mr. Borrodaile. No, nothing fresh that I know of.”
Fischer smiled grimly.
“Got you into a kind of hornet’s nest, eh?” he observed.
“It’s been like this all the morning,” Van Teyl told him. “They believe I know something. Even the newspaper men are tumbling to it. We’ll lunch up at the club. Maybe we’ll get a little peace there.”
They stepped into the hall of a great building; and took one of the interminable row of lifts. A few minutes later they were seated at a side table in a diningroom on the top floor of one of the huge modern sky-scrapers. Below them stretched a silent panorama of the city; beyond, a picturesque view of the river. A fresh breeze blew in through the opened window. They were above the noise, even, of the street cars.
“Order me a small bottle of champagne, James,” Fischer begged, “and some steak.”
Van Teyl stared at his companion and laughed as he took up the wine list.
“Well, that’s the first time, Fischer, I’ve known you to touch a drop of anything
before the evening! I’ll have a whisky and soda with you. Thank God we’re away from that inquisitive crowd for a few minutes ! Are you going to give, me an idea of what’s moving?”
Fischer watched the wine being poured into his glass.
“Not until this evening,” he said. “1 want you to bring your sister and come and dine at the new roof-garden.”
“I don’t know whether Pamela has any engagement,” Van Teyl began, a little dubiously.
“Please go and see,” Fischer begged earnestly. “The telephones are just outside. Tell your sister that I particularly wish her to accept my invitation. Tell her that there will be news.”
Van Teyl went out to the telephone. Fischer sipped his champagne and crumbled up his bread, his eyes fixed a little dreamily on the grey river. He was already conscious of the glow of the wine in his veins. The sensation was half pleasurable, in a sense distasteful to him. He resented this artificial humanity. He had the feeling of a man who has stooped to be doped by a quack doctor. And he was a little afraid.
His young companion returned triumphant.
“Had a little trouble with Pamela,” he observed, as he resumed his place at the table. “She was thinking of the Opera with a girl friend she picked up this morning. However, the idea of news, I think, clinched it We’ll be at the Oriental at eight o’clock, eh?”
Fischer looked up from the fascinating patchwork below. Already there waa anticipation in his face.
“I am very glad,” he said. “There will certainly be news.”
To be Continued.