The Traveller in the Fur Cloak
STANLEY J. WEYMAN
The tale draws near to a conclusion in a series of breath-taking events that still hold the reader in suspense
I HEARD the woman’s steps go quickly down the stairs. I heard the creak of the door at the foot. The girl lay on the floor where she had fallen, a huddled heap of white, for the wretches, once in possession of the secret, had not given a second thought to her. The man after listening to the last echo of his wife’s departure, began to pace feverishly up and down, stuffing a pipe the while, and now and again shooting an evil glance at me. The dwarf picked up the bar and began"?to play with it, now twirling it in his monstrous hand as if it had been a stick, or again trying strokes with it, seeing how nearly he could brush the floor, or sweep by some outstanding nail without hitting its head.
To me black moments of black despair! Thoughts of home crowded into my mind as I ■crouched hopeless above what I knew to be my grave. Thoughts •of past hopes, past ambitions;— hopes and ambitions that had made up my life, and had owned few limits. Of easy, care-free •days at the Office before responsibility was mine; again of later and fuller days, and finally of that
:sunny voyage to the South with pride and confidence at the helm, six months—only six months before, but it seemed to me in another life! Swift thoughts of Vienna, of my work there, of the retreat, of Iglau! And could it be I, who crouched here, fettered and hopeless, at the mercy of these vile miscreants, could it really be I who had played that part—who had talked with Gentz and Metternich, who had felt so deeply the paltry sting of supersession, who had journeyed and bickered with poor Perceval —only, only, oh intolerable doom, to perish in the end by the same ignoble hands, to fall into the same dark secret grave, to leave behind me no name, no fame, no memory, but only the waning puzzle—some day perhaps to' be raked up out of dusty annals—of an unknown fate! A little weeping at home, a little talk at the office, a dispatch or two—and oblivion!
Black, black moments of despair! To die and moulder in the hideous depths of this deserted building, while the sun shone, and the world went on its way, and for a brief space men questioned, then wondered, then forgot! Forgot! Were it astonishing that overcome by the thought I rebelled? That again I let slip for a moment manhood, courage, self-control, and fought, fought furiously with my bonds, and hopeless as I knew it to be, spat curses, * threats, abuse at my captors, until once again I fell over and lay, breathless and exhausted on my side.
This time the man paid no heed to my outbreak. He had ears only for the return oi the woman and was so absorbed in listening that he did not even vouchsafe me a glance. It was the dwarf who this time came to me and playfully levered me up with his iron bar. “Fine sport!” ^ he mouthed, stooping his horrible face to me. “Fine! Fine! But by and by, when we—” he went through the motions of striking away the bolt— “Finer! Finer! Oh, it will be—colossal! You will go down—bump! bump! bump!”
I closed my eyes and strove to frame a prayer. Then I heard the girl moan, and I opened them. But she had not moved. She lay a mere heap of white, on the shadowy fringe of the circle of light, cast by the lanthorn. The man too had heard her and cast a careless glance that way, but beyond that he took no notice of her.
T^HE dwarf still hung over me. “Fine! Fine!” he gibbered. “It will be fine when we—” and again he made a, pretence of striking the bolt, and tucking in his chin and whirling his arms he mimicked the motions of a body falling headlong. “Fine! Fine!” he chuckled.
“Shut your mouth!” the man growled. “And stop that folly!” But I knew that it was out of no thought for me, no human feeling that he spoke. It was only that he was listening, that he would listen without interruption. And he/had hardly uttered the words before, “Silence!” he snarled. “Do you hear, dolt? Do you want your head knocked off? Be quiet, fool! What is that?’”
“She is coming back,” the lad replied sulkily. "That’s all. Can’t you hear her?”
“I hear some one,” the man muttered, and he shot a devilish glance at me. “There is some one coming, to be sure, but—”
“Who else should it be?” the dwarf asked impatiently.
'“I don’t,know,” the man muttered. “But it doesn’t sound like—” He broke off and stood, waiting, staring— staring all ears and eyes in the direction of the door, that sunk in the gloom was barely, if barely, visible from where we were. I too could now hear the ascending footsteps—I heard them stop. It seemed to me that the woman had paused at the staircase head, just without the door.
The man peered into the gloom, and so infectious was his doubt, so eloquent of suspense his figure, that hope that I had thought dead leaped up in me. If it was not the woman, if his accustomed ear had detected some change in the step—who was it? Whom could it be? Or why, if it was the woman, had she paused on the threshold of the room, instead of entering?
She might be out of breath—it might be that, for the climb was a long one. But in that case—
A bright flash, that dazzled the eyes, a report that thundered in the roof overhead, and a figure, vaguely seen, leapt into view, and into the room, came clattering across the loose floor. Waechter saw, and in a moment knew. He uttered a furious curse, he sprang to meet the man, then turned and leapt to recover the bar. “But any way,” he roared, “he shall go to hell before us! Quick, the bar! The bar!”
But—and that went half way towards saving me—the dwarf, slow-witted, caught by surprise, dropped the iron, as the other snatched at it. It fell between them, they jostled one another as both strove to raise it, and a brace of seconds were lost. Then the man secured the bar, swung it aloft and struck recklessly at the bolt.
He missed it—and almost lost his footing! But he had still a chance, the figure leaping across the floor was still half a dozen paces away, and the wretch, set desperately on his purpose, swung the bar aloft again.
This time he might have hit the bolt—I think he would have, though I roared at him—and at the last moment rescue might have come too late. But as the thing went up the girl—no one had thought of her or seen her rise— leapt upon his back, and hurled him a yard or two forward. The blow crashed down but it jarred harmlessly on the planks. ,
He had no third chance. Before he could recover his balance or shake the girl from his hold, the stranger was upon him, and waving a pistol in his face. “Yield!” the unknown shouted, “or by the God above me, I blow your head off! Yield! Yield! You’re done!”
AND the stranger was but one of several. Men sprang,
a crowd of them from the doorway, came hurrying across the floor, ran towards us, like hounds in view of their quarry. Waechter saw them and saw the pistol, but coward as he was, he was desperate and without hope.
With the bar raised above his head he leapt on theleader. I looked to see the fellow—-a small man—shoot him down. Instead, the stranger leapt nimbly aside, evaded the blow, and then springing in like a wild-cat, he clubbed Waechter mercilessly on the head with the butt of his pistol. The brute staggered back, dropping the bar, sought blindly to recover his footing, fell. In a trice three men were on him, binding him, while their leader drove back the gaping, mouthing dwarf, whose sluggish senses had not kept him abreast of the scene. When—but not before—he too had been overpowered, and tied up, the man with the pistol took up the lanthorn and turned to me. And without surprise, for by this time I was beyond surprise, I saw that my rescuer was Grussbaum.
“Gott in Himmel!” he exclaimed, as he viewed my state, “What in the world were they doing to you, Excellency?”
I smiled feebly, but I could not speak. I did not faint, though I suppose I came near to it. But words were beyond me, and with a grunt of dismay Grussbaum shifted the lanthorn and looked at the girl. She was leaning against a post, one of those that supported the roof, leaning, her strength all gone, and weeping as if her heart would break.
With rough kindness, he patted her on the shoulder “No fear now, Fraulein! No fear now, and no harm. But if you’d wept five minutes ago instead of jumping on that brute’s back—there might have been harm! There, there, it is all over! It is all over. But—” turning the light once more on me, and speaking in a tone of perplexity—"what the devil were the knaves doing to him? And why, as that brute had the bar and his chance, didn’t he knock out your brains, mein Herr, and have done with it? Instead of— but a knife!” addressing one of his posse. “A knife, man. Cut these cords and set the gentleman on his feet.”
Two men came forward, and while one separated the cords the other severed them one by one. But when they lifted me, still speechless and smiling foolishly, to my feet, I could not stand. The men had to hold me up until something on which I could sit was brought; and the pain that followed, as the blood began again to run freely in my hands and feet almost unmanned me. "Pheugh!” Grussbaum muttered, holding the lanthorn once more to my face. “What the devil were they doing to him? Run, you, Stattler, to the Coffee House and bring some wine. And hurry, man, hurry. The young lady too will be the better for some.”
But when the man had gone for the wine I found my tongue. “They were going—to drop me,” I whispered, “through the trap —to the cellar!” And such a shudder— though the danger was over—seized me, as again caught away my voice.
“Ho! ho! So that was it!” Grussbaum exclaimed, with the relish of a connoisseur adding a rare pieee to his gallery. “That was it!”’ And going, with the light, to where I had been found he examined the trap-door and the bolt. “Here!” he said to one of the men. “Fetch the bar and knock this out!”
THE man obeyed and under the second blow, the trap fell with a hideous clatter—hideous at any rate to me. Grussbaum peered into the black hole, playing the light to and fro. “The next floor is open,” he muttered. “I can’t see farther. Do you,” to the man, “go down and see if it is open to the cellar.” Then to Waechter, “You devil!” he said, “I wish I had the right to drop you down! I’d knock out the bolt with pleasure.”
"He murdered Herr Ellis,” I muttered. “He’s buried in the cellar—below this. She—” I nodded weakly towards the girl. “She knows. They told her.”
“Ha! Well—I thought so!”
“You did!” I xclaimed, and I stared at him, the power to think gradually returning to me. “Why?” And then remembering Frau Waechter, “But the woman? Have you the woman?” I cried.
“Neck and heels!” he replied, licking his lips. “We were on the point of forcing the door when she came out and we took her. Gott! If she had not come out we should have made a fine mess of it!”
“You would have been too late,” I said with a shudder, and overcome by the thought I closed my eyes.
But the wine came, and refreshed by the draught, I stood up, leaning on his arm. “We’ll go now,” he said, looking round complacently. “You’ll be the better in your bed. But first, I must give some orders. The three to the jail!” he continued briskly, in a voice of authority, “and see them well-fettered. They’ll be food for the Reichsrichter. And you, Hogner, go to the Governor and tell him that the job’s done here, and all’s safe—say, with my compliments, that I was right about Herr Ellis and I’ve proof. But I’ll be round with him in an hour, when I’ve seen his Excellency comfortable. And the young lady? To be sure, order a room and a warmed bed at the Coffee House and a woman to see to her. Do that first as you go. And let two men stay on guard here until to-morrow— we’ll do what is necessary in the cellar then. That is all, I think. And now,” turning to me, “if you can walk, mein Herr, we are ready.”
“The Fräulein first,” I muttered, drawing back. “And get a doctor for her,” I added. “And some soup or something—at once. She has been in their hands a week.” “The devil she has!” he replied. “Well, the Grand Duchess will be satisfied now. Her Highness has sent to Berlin about her, and driven Herr Justus wild with her inquiries. I had an express about her yesterday, and orders to search along the road. But come, mein Herr, come. The sooner you are out of this place, the better for your sleep to-night.”
But I would not go until I had stammered a word ofthanks to her, and seen her out. Then, more lights having been brought, we formed a slow procession down the narrow steep worm-eaten staircase, and so through that hateful mildewed doorway, and out into the pure air of the night. I looked up in reverent thankfulness, not without a pitiful thought of Perceval as I saw in the narrow slit of sky above us, a single star, shining calm and clear. Thence we proceeded, dazzled by the smoky flame of flares and pressed on by a hundred curious gazers, across the corner of the Shoe Market, to be welcomed on the threshold of the inn by an astonished landlord, who beamed upon us more benignantly than ever.
BUT when they were going to lead me to my old bedroom on the second floor I recoiled. “Not there!” I exclaimed, “anywhere but there!” For the room seemed to me to be pervaded by poor Ellis’s presence, and I shrank from the thought of lying sleepless below the window which had witnessed that bloody scene. “Give me another room! Any other room!”
“Certainly, certainly, as the gentleman pleases,” agreed the complaisant host. “And this room—the young lady may have it.”
“No! No!” I protested, more strongly than befpre. “Rather I than she!”
“Well, good, good,” the landlord agreed. But he looked his surprise. “We will manage somehow. Hurry,” to a chambermaid, “and warm another bed, two beds—come and I will show you. In a minute, mein Herr, all shall be ready. In a minute!”
“In the meantime,” said Grussbaum, “you won’t want me, Excellency. You are in good hands now.”
“On the contrary I do want you,” I replied testily, relapsing with a sigh of relief on a chest in the passage. “I want to know who you are, Herr Grussbaum.”
He smiled. “Well, not Herr Grussbaum,” he rejoined slily. “Though as a travelling name it was very well. I am—Herr Lieutenant Platen, assistant to Herr Grüner.” “Then all that at the Barrier—about your sick wife and your poverty—”
“Was an old dodge,” with smiling complacency.
“And the object?”
“That I might watch over you, unsuspected by any one, Excellency—even by you. You see Herr Justus was sure that either the persons you were in search of had fled the place long ago; or that if they were still in Perleberg, and you by chance came on them, they would know more of you than you of them. In that event it was by an attempt on you that they would be most likely to betray themselves, and I was sent, not only to be on the look out for that and the evidence it might furnish, but also to see to your safety. For the authorities had no mind to face the trouble that the disappearance of another Englander would cause. But I had to watch you, unsuspected even by you, and to that end we could devise nothing better than the little rumpus at the Barrier. You took me up in the presence of fifty travellers, to half of whom I had already applied.”
“And suppose one of them had taken you in?” I said. “There was an officer at the Barrier, who would have said I was a rogue and driven me off—for the time.”
“But how did you know,” I asked curiously, “that I should take you up?”
He looked at me, smiling—and no man could have been less like the sneaking, white-faced, down-trodden Grussbaum whom I had befriended. “Well, you were English,” he answered frankly. “And we thought that we had taken the length of your foot, Excellency. And you see we were right.”
“And that was why,” I exclaimed, suddenly enlightened, “the police let you go—at that place by the water.” “Yes. But you see I dared not give myself away in public even to the police—stupid fellows! I had to see the Chief alone. Then it was simple.”
“I see,” I replied. “It puzzled me at the time.”
“Yes, I had to tell you a little fiction—to quiet you.”
T NODDED. “And when did you begin to connect the Waechters—with the murder?” I asked.
“To-day only! This very afternoon, mein Herr, and not an hour earlier. But I had seen pretty quickly that they were blackguards, gaol-birds; and to put them off their guard, should they have any designs on you, I left you the moment we arrived here. But I only drove out a stage and in again by another road. Within three hours I was back in Perleberg, had had the roads watched, and had made arrangements to have you shadowed wherever you went. Then to-day I got some scent of the murder, through a story a chambermaid told me of a woman and a girl who slept here the night Herr Ellis disappeared. I thought the story louche—queer, you understand, and fancied that the woman and the girl smacked of the two in the Waechters’ party. It had vexed me when you turned off the road to follow what I thought was none of your business. But, when I had listened to the chambermaid’s story and had turned it over everyway, I saw—”
“That I was not so foolish after all!” I said, colouring a little—for I knew that it was no thought of Ellis that had sent me after them.
“No, not quite that,” he replied with a gleam of humor in his eye, “but that you had shot at a pigeon and killed a crow, mein Herr. Which happens once in a thousand times. Unfortunately I took a little walk to turn the matter over, and see how it fell in with what I had seen of the young lady and the Waechters;and meantimethe foolish fellow who had shadowed you to that devilish place next door hesitated to break in the door until I could be found.” . ,
“I see,” I said.
“And now,” briskly, “to bed! To bed, Excellency! And I should recommend a doctor’s draught, or you will be falling through that flap till daylight! I’ll send him to ¿ou, and I must go myself to the Governor. He’s been on tenter hooks lest something should happen to you. It would have made things unpleasant for him, you see.”
He went, and presently the doctor came in his place, an old man in a cauliflower wig, who sat and propped his double chin on the gold knob of his cane, and gazed on me with owlish sagacity; so that I could have fancied-myself back again at Zerbst, with the portrait of the girl on its easel, and glimmering at me out of the twilight of the curtained room. And this it was no doubt that switched my thoughts once more to her—to her sufferings, ended now, thank God! and her courage—that courage which' had saved my life, and in all her actions now I came to trace them, peeped through the helplessness, and the weakness of the woman; that courage which had nerved her to long silence, to endurance, to an incredible stubbornness, and in the upshot had saved my life and hers.
She had been for long but a face limned on canvas; a face piquant and haunting but no more than this—just a portrait that had stirred my feelings. Then, a shadow to be followed, an enigma to be answered, a phantom elusive and perplexing, always in the van of me, always at a distance, rather glimpsed than seen. And again, at the most and last, an appeal; a creature crying out of helplessness to strength, out of weakness for succour—a debt, a task, a burden imposed on chivalry, and to be paid, if paid, reluctantly. -
NOW, in a moment, a woman, slender, soft, of flesh and blood, my equal. I dwelt on her and thought new and tingling thoughts of her—thought of her with a tenderness that brought me, shaken and overwrought as I was, to the verge of tears. And she was English, she was a stranger, and lonely and unprotected in this troubled, this foreign land. On that reflection I rose up in bed and before I would swallow the old fool’s potion, though Heaven knows I needed it for my brain was in a fever, I must question the doctor, I must send again to inquire how she did, and learn that all was well with her. For I had anxious, terrifying thoughts of her. She might collapse, sink, die, while I lay here! And it was not until I was assured that she had taken food and sunk into the dead sleep of exhaustion that I would consent to take my own medicine. ' r .
Still for an hour I turned and tossed, seeing ugly things, the cellar, Ellis, falling a score of times, as Platen had said I should, through that hideous flap. I rose and lay down again, I cursed the doctor and all his futile works, I reached for the bell. And then—I slept.
Dreamlessly, as far as I know. At any rate none of the dreams remained with me when I opened my eyes to the morning light, stared in wonder about the unfamiliar chamber, and slowly and with aching head, recalled the things of yesterday. No longer feverish, I lay awhile, thinking them over in detail, reviewing them in cold blood, but certainly, in no thankless, no ungrateful spirit.
I passed the story through my mind, I saw whither I had so nearly slid, and I had time to think with remorse of Perceval—of poor Perceval, whom none had interposed to warn or to save, who had been so cruelly and foully murdered in his duty. Ay, in his duty. And suddenly, as suddenly as if a pistol had been fired beside my ear, I sat up.
Heavens! How had I failed in my duty! From the moment of my rescue I had never given a thought to them! Absorbed in the peril I had escaped, accable presque jusqu'à en mourir by the rush of events, and caught on the rebound by the girl, I had let their very existence and their hiding place pass from my mind.
After that, not a moment, not an instant must be lost if I was to rest. I dared not, and would not, trust any one.
I leapt out of bed, I huddled on some clothes, I sallied out, and heedless of an astonished maid whom I overset in the passage I flew up the flight of stairs that separated my present chamber from my old one. Without delay, without a second’s hesitation, caring not who might be in the room, I knocked at the door.
I got no answer, and it was no time for ceremony. I opened the door. Joy! The room was empty, though an unmade bed showed me that it had been occupied. I took three steps to the window, that tragic window which, had played so great a part in the story, and leaning from which I had had that strange monition of Ellis’s presence.
I flung it open—no thought of monitions now—and thrust out my arm. I could reach the eaves with ease, and with a beating heart I felt between wall and roof, first on one side of the window and then on the other. But my hand, far in as, leaning recklessly out, I thrust it, encountered no packet, no foreign body, nothing; and with a pang of misgiving, I began a systematic search. From the one side, foot by foot, I passed my hand to the other. But the result, though I feverishly repeated the search, repeated it more than once, the result was the same, I found nothing. Nothing!
The dispatches were gone!
CHAPTER XXVII. .
THEY were gone, beyond doubt or question, and stunned by the discovery I sank back on the meagre bed and stared at the blank wall. And how I cursed my stupidity! How I cursed my negligence! Why had I not the moment that I entered the house, made for the hiding place and secured the papers? Or failing that, and making allowance for the shock I had sustained, why had I been so astoundingly silly as to refuse to return to my old room—the room, where my presence, though it did no more, would have made it difficult for another to lay hands on the packet?
And excuse I had none. Not a jot, not a tittle. Out of my own mouth I must stand condemned. For would any one believe, could I plead to any reasoning creature, that I had forgotten the dispatches? Forgotten the very soul and essence of my mission at the moment, when it became most important? For with poor Perceval dead, and his slayers arrested, what remained? What of import half so high as the recovery of the papers for which he had given his life, the papers which so many had sought, for which so many had died or were to die, which Klatz, the French, the Waechters, all had hunted with so blind, so furious a persistence? And which only fortune and a girl’s courage had preserved, so that for a brief hour they had lain under my hand, to take or leave?
And I had left them. I had left them!
I spent some bitter moments, thinking the matter over, and dwelling not only on the trouble which might ensuq between the Chancelleries—which depended of course on the hands into which they had fallen—but on the effect this must have on my own career. Men are judged, and nowhere is this more true than in the Office, by results. With the dispatches in my-care, saved at my risk and by my exertions, I might have hoped that my unfortunate parting from Ellis—though I must ever in my heart recall It with sorrow—would be overlooked. But if I returned empty-handed, without the dispatches, then most certainly I should be placed on my defence, and I should be indeed hard put to it to make out a case. Nay, I knew well that I could make out no case that would satisfy the Chief.
Yet, was the matter hopeless? Were the papers gone beyond recovery? I began to consider. There was just a bare possibility that Norma Mackay under the stress of suffering had made a mistake; that she had either forgotten where she had hidden the packet, or had described the hiding place so ill that a false impression of it had been stamped on my mind. But I set little faith and less hope on this. No, she had secreted the papers where she had told us, and within the last twelve hours, during which the secret had ceased to be hers, they had been removed, either by an agent of the Waechters—who might have got speech of them in the gaol—or by some one who with aims of his own to serve, had learned from them what they knew—and what only they and I and the girl did know. That person might be in the French interest, or in the German; for in this matter I could trust no one, not von Kalisch, not even Platen. And yet the thing was not hopeless. If I challenged the possessor at once, and while the scent was hot, something might be done. But I must act quickly—quickly and with assurance.
I opened the door and went out. The first thing I had to do was to dress myself. But as I hurried down the stairs with that in my mind, I came upon the chambermaid whom I had seen as I went up. The sight of the woman started a new hare and I stopped, and went back to her. “Who had that room—last night?” I asked, pointing to the door. “Some one slept in it?”
“So!” she said, staring up at me, for she was on her knees. “That room? One of the French gentlemen from the floor below. He offered, to remove to accommodate mein Herr.”
My heart sank. “Oh!” I said. “One of the French officers?” Then, “How long, meine Kammerjungafru, have they been here—the French guests?”
“A week or more, mein Heir.”
“Doing what?” impatiently. “What is their business?”
The woman spread out her hands. “Ich weisses nicht,” she said.
I asked no more, but all my suspicions confirmed, I plunged into my room and dressed. Then down into the hall hot-foot, where I found the good-natured landlord. He beamed on me doubtfully, astonished to see me abroad so early. “Is the Wohlgeborener Herr prudent to be about so—”
“Yes,” I said, cutting him short. “I am in trouble. Have you seen the Lieutenant of Police Platen?”
“Surely, mein Herr. He went out ten minutes ago.” And reading the question my eyes put to him, “To the Governor’s, where he has the honour to breakfast, I believe.”
I was through the door and in the street almost before the words had passed his lips. I hurried along under the painted signs and by the mob-capped short-skirted Mädchen who were whitening the steps. I saw the wide grass-grown Market Place open before me, saw the couchant bulk of the Cathedral, caught á glimpse of Grey Roland, the next moment knocked at the green door of the Governor’s lodging. The pleasant-faced girl who had admitted me before opened the door. I brushed by her without a word, and it was not until I áctually stood in the presenceof the Governor and Platen and read theastonishment their faces betrayed, as they viewed the uninvited guest, that I bethought me that I had not arranged what I would say.
Habit, however, goes for much; in a trice I had determined to hinge my offensive on the French officer, and “Pardon me, Herr Governor,” I said, hat in hand, “I am in great trouble. I am thankful to find you, with my friend here. If you will be so good as to continue your meal I will explain. The dispatches—”
“Ah, the dispatches?” Platen said, taking me up and nodding. “That’s it, is it? Have no fear. We shall wring the secret out of them. A little patience and a little pressure, and a good examining judge, and rest assured—”
“But wait! Wait!” said I. “The Waechters never had the dispatches. They never got them. It was not until ten minutes before you entered that they learned where they were hidden.”
“Hidden?” Platen rose to his feet and sat down again, his face as keen as a terrier dog’s. He cracked his fingers. “Hidden, eh? And not by 'them? Then I was right when I suspected that the woman’s search in that bedroom had to do with them?”
"You were,” I said. And then, pretty certain from his manner and from the surprise which I read in von Kalisch’s face—he looked more like a student than ever this morning with his spectacles and his short fair beard— that they were innocent of the theft, I recalled also that they had not heard the full story. And I proceeded to enlighten them.
“Ho! ho!” the Lieutenant cried when I had done, “I thought that something like that was at the bottom of it. But a clever girl! Clever and staunch! And a good thought too. But—” he shook his head—“if the police had searched—”
“Just so,” I said. “But they did not. Or—” with a keen look first at him and then at von Kalisch, “perhaps they did—and found them?”
“What?” Platen exclaimed, and he rose cracking his fingers again and looking more than ever like a terrier on a scent. “I see. I see. You’ve looked, Excellency—and they are not there. That’s it, is it?”
“That’s it,” I said heavily.
“Are you sure that you did not mistake the room?”
“Quite sure. There is only one room that looks on the Brewery gable. The chambermaid too identified it for me when she told me the tale. If you,” with a little lingering suspicion, “know nothing about it?” I looked from one to the other.
The Governor shook his head. The Police Lieutenant, who had sat down again, stretched out his legs and thrust his hands deep into his fobs, “Innocent,” he said. “Quite ( innocent.” And I believed him. /
To he Concluded