Account Squared

Love, treachery, and a comical babu at Monte Carlo

A. A. IRVINE February 15 1932

Account Squared

Love, treachery, and a comical babu at Monte Carlo

A. A. IRVINE February 15 1932

Account Squared



Love, treachery, and a comical babu at Monte Carlo

FROM the bedroom window of his hotel in Cannes Captain Jim Allison—Indian Cavalry, retired—gazed across the palm-lined sea-front of La Croisette to where the magnificent sweep of bay lay glittering in a flood of Riviera sunshine.

It was as yet early, and, save for a few misguided children who evidently lacked sufficient sense to remain fashionably in bed, the Croisette was almost deserted. A few more hours and it would be alive with lovely, butterfly women, intent on the latest Paris creations, with elderly flâneurs, in search of their aperitifs. Bright young jx;rsons of both sexes would be abroad with tennis rackets; and in the numerous bars near the great Casino, close to where the sumptuous yachts of American millionaires were swinging lazily at anchor, cosmopolitan crooks would be foregathering to concoct plans for the imixiverishment of their fellow creatures.

Allison rang the bell for his breakfast of coffee and confiture and rolls, which presently came along with the morning paper and a solitary letter in an immense cream-colored envelope. He picked up the letter first.

Before he opened it, the garishly ornate device on the flap—an embossed red-and-gold hatchment of elephants and spearheads surrounded by Persian script—informed him that his correspondent was Lala Sita Ram, private secretary to His Highness the Rajah of Kalankar.

Allison’s sunburnt, clean-shaven face lit up with amusement while he read the contents of the letter. Lala Sita Ram’s quaint excursions into babu-English invariably repaid jx-rusal. The text of the present missive was fully up to sample;

"My dear Captain Sahib:

“As Poet Shakespeare has written, ‘A friend should bear his friend’s infirmaries,’ so I am writing to you. I am hoping that you will come to Monte Carlo instanter and favor me with some advices, for I am perched on a horn of a dilemma, and find myself in a quandarious stew. My revered master. Rajah Sahib, is pro tern in Paris, and I am left solus in charge of royal household and paraphernalia. If you can be at Ambassadeurs Restaurant at 4 p.m.

Í will explain seriatim. Oh, good Lord! How I am annoyed! Your friend,

Sita Ram,

Private Secretary.

P.S. Please to kindly excuse my botherations, but excepting the Almighty and your good self, 1 have no friend or other relation upon the Cote d'Azur.”

With the smile still on his face, Allison laid the letter beside his plate and began his breakfast. Forthwith he decided that he would answer the summons. His time was entirely his own. A few days in Monte Carlo would be very pleasant, and it would be fun to see something of his friend, the little Indian Babu.

1 íe had known Lala Sita Ram for several years. I lis regiment had for a time been quartered in the vicinity of the native state of Kalankar, and he had frequently paid visits there as a guest of its chief. The Rajah was an old-fashioned ¡xitcntate. blessed with Oriental notions of princely hospitality.

After the war Allison had wearied of soldiering, and, having come into a considerable property, had bade farewell to “The Shiny.” He was a bachelor unburdened with relations; and the idea of escaping an English winter, with golf and possibly polo at Mandelieu, had appealed to him.

Soon after his arrival at Cannes, he had learned with surprise of Lala Sita Ram’s presence on the Riviera. Though the little secretary spoke fluent English after his own weird fashion, and habitually wore what he was wont to describe as “European garbage,” it had seemed difficult to visualize him away from the regions of curry and palanquins and punkahs. It apjxared, however, that the Kalankar chief had suddenly taken it into his head to follow the example set by others of his brother potentates and pay a visit to Europe. Accordingly, no small portion of a luxury liner had been chartered to convey His Highness, complete with private secretary and entourage, on the expedition. He had leased a spacious villa close to Eze, where he lived very much in

seclusion, despite his secretary’s efforts to lure him more into the limelight.

Allison finished his breakfast, telephoned to a Monte Carlo hotel engaging a room, and packed a suitcase. Soon

afterward he was urging his smart little two-seater along the Grande Corniche road, with a vista far below him of tiny capes and bays, round the margins of which the towns and llower-bordered villas and tall waving palms looked some-

what like the scattered contents of a child’s toy cupboard.

While he skilfully steered a course through the neverending stream of autocars packed with sightseers he was busily revolving in his mind the possible purport of his friend’s singular message. It was unlikely, he thought, that the secretary had become involved in difficulties connected with the gaming tables. On the little Babu’s own admission, a fortnight’s experience of the vagaries of the goddess of chance had sufficed to teach him wisdom. Moreover, he had been at pains to point out that his erstwhile tempting of fortune had not been due to a greedy desire to “feather his own nest egg.” Like many another inexpert gambler, Sita Ram had simply been making a praiseworthy attempt to supplement his monthly remittances to certain persons to whom he quaintly referred as his “family members”—a wife, two children and an aged grandmother. Until disillusioned. so he had explained, he had been cherishing the hope of making, with the aid of the roulette wheel, “the two ends of his grandmother meet.”

On the whole, it seemed more probable that the troubles of the excellent secretary were in some manner connected with State affairs. During the absence of his princelyemployer in Paris, Sita Ram would be entirely responsible

for the safety of the villa and its contents: he would be held strictly to account for any untoward happening.

Allison recollected that, not very long before, there had been an attempt by certain international crooks to get possession of the Rajah's world-famous diamond, “The Fountain of Light.” The attempt had been frustrated, but it was quite on the cards that some equally nefarious scheme was afoot.

An enjoyable run of a few hours brought Allison to Monte Carlo. He garaged his car and. leaving his suitcase at the hotel, strolled through a strip of the flower-decked Casino gardens to the Ambassadeurs, where he found his friend awaiting him at the entrance. As he shook hands he noticed that, though the little Babu looked as spruce as usual and the dark eyes behind the big-rimmed spectacles evinced pleasure at the meeting, there was a harassed expression on the round, brown countenance in place of the secretary's customary beaming smile.

“Hope I’m not late. Lala Sahib?” Allison greeted him.

CETTLING himself com^9 fortably in a big armchair, he employed himself lighting a cigarette, while his companion searched in his pocketbook, extracted a couple of sheets of flimsy French notepaper and passed them across the table.

Allison studied their contents carefully. The first was an anonymous typewritten letter -only a few lines, but conveying a warning of no less importance than that a plot was being hatched to purloin the Kalankar State jewels.

“Very interesting, but not much to be made of it.” was Allison’s comment. “It may be genuine, but, on the other hand, it may be merely a leg-pull.” The secretary conceded the point. “But the second one?” he asked.

“Ah. that’s a different matter! To begin with, it's signed by someone calling himself Pierre Barjolet, though he hasn’t favored you with his address. I gather that he is an agent of the Sûreté—that’s the Criminal Investigation Department of the French Police, you know. Have you met this Monsieur Barjolet yet?”

“Not yet. As you see. he writes that he wishes to consult me about a grave matter affecting His Highness, and asks me to let him know, care of the poste restante, where we can meet without attracting attention. So I wrote to him to come here today; and at the same time I wrote to you.”

Allison nodded approvingly. “That was quite a sound scheme. There’ll be the usual crowd at tea in the restaurant.” He paused, and went on: “It's jxxssible that the Paris Sûreté liave got wind of something and have sent along one of their men to make enquiries. How does that strike you?”

The secretary shrugged his shoulders dejectedly.

“Captain Sahib, I do not know what to think. Since the letters reached me, my mind has been like a shuttlecock, running from pillar to post !"

“On the contrary, you are punctual as a tick,” replied the secretary gratefully. “And at present juncture, Captain Sahib, you are a sight for eye sores.” While he helped Allison off with his coat, he added confidentially: “Since receipt of two communications which I shall show you, I have been nothing better than a toad under a harrow who knows where a shoe pinches.” Allison, suppressing an inclination to laugh, took his companion by the ami.

“Well, come along and tell me about it.” he said. He led the way into a small deserted lounge. “No one’s likely to disturb us in here.”

His friend sought to cheer him. “Well. at. any rate, nothing has happened so far. By the way, your correspondent doesn't say how he is to be recognized?”

“No; that, too. is mysterious. I am of opeenion that he intends to remain sotto voce until he is ready to disclose himself.”

Allison glanced toward the doorway, through which came the muffled strains of a band playing jazz music in the restaurant beyond. He handed back the two sheets of notepaper to his companion, and rose from his chair.

“We’d better go and wait in there.” he suggested. “It’s the sort of place your man would be likely to choose for a meeting.”

' I 'HEY found the big, gaudily decorated room tilled with

-*a cosmopolitan assembly engaged in afternoon tea at the rows of small tables set round the polished expanse of dancing floor. The lights had been lowered, and the programme of attractions, which was included in the restaurant’s charges for refreshments, had commenced. A clever ]x?rformance by a trained Alsatian dog was coming to an end.

With the lights still down, the band began to play a soft, languorous melody; and a burst of applause heralded the arrival of the chief attraction, a new Russian dancer. Allison had noticed her name. Sonia Markavina, billed in huge letters outside the entrance.

For a few seconds she posed, motionless, in the centre of the dancing floor, in the full glare of the spotlight. Clad in pale draperies of diaphanous chiffon, her blonde head thrown a little back, her violet eyes delightedly acknowledging the warmth of her reception, she appeared the very embodiment of charm and gracefulness. Then, with a dreamy smile still on her lovely face, she glided into her dance, her lissom body swaying in perfect time to the muted harmony of the orchestra.

Gradually the music quickened, grew louder, swelled to a frenzied climax, in which, her white limbs gleaming through a whirl of fluttering frills, she danced like a maenad inspired by the wild ecstasy of the bacchanalia.

With a final crash of the cymbals the music ceased abruptly, and she sank to one knee, her arms outspread, her breath coining quickly through her parted lips. The applause burst out afresh as she sprang to her feet and, bowing once more her thanks, made her way through the crowd toward the room reserved for the artistes. And as she passed from his view. Allison realized that she was the loveliest woman that he had ever seen.

With a true Englishman’s reserve he concealed his emotions. “By George ! That was topping !” was all that he could find to say.

Lala Sita Ram, clapping away vigorously, was more frankly demonstrative.

“In my opinion, she is genuine chip of that grand old block, Terpsichore,” he declared.

From behind his shoulder another voice added its commendation.

“Superbe! Elle est vraiment superbe, cette danseuse-là!”

Allison and his companion looked round. Seated alone at the table in the rear of theirs was a man dressed in a smart grey suit, a good-looking fellow in the late thirties, with keen dark eyes and a carefully curled mustache.

"Est-ce vrai, messieurs?” he enquired of them, in whimsical excuse for his outburst of enthusiasm.

Allison politely signified his agreement, and, catching sight of some acquaintances on the opposite side of the room, walked over to speak to them.

V\ THEN, a few minutes later, he returned to his chair,

*V he found the stranger deep in conversation with Lala Sita Ram. Solemnly the Babu slid from under his saucer a visiting card, and Allison read upon it, as he was expected to do. the name, Pierre Barjolet.

The secretary stowed away the card in his waistcoat pocket.

“I have been explaining to this gentleman,” he said, “that it is quite arlrigltf., that you are ancient friend of His Highness and of myself, that he may speak freely before you."

Monsieur Barjolet inclined his head gravely, and. under pretense: of repinning the red carnation into his buttonhole, allowed his companions a fleeting glimpse of a badge fastened inside his coat.

“My credentials,” he said in excellent English. “The badge of the Sûreté—the eye and the ear, but not the mouth. We see, we hear, but we speak little. Mo foi! At the present time, messieurs,” he continued, comically apologetic, “there is little enough of which to speak. For I. too, am altogether in the dark, even as you are.”

“Then, what are you doing here?” Allison bluntly demanded.

The detective took him up sharply. “My duty, monsieur.” Almost immediately the annoyed look cleared from his face and he regained his suave politeness. "Pardon, monsieur,” he said. "After all, yours was a very natural question. I must explain to you further. I must tell you that an anonymous letter, such as monsieur the secretary has just shown me. was received at headquarters, and that I was detailed to investigate. You will comprehend that so long as Son Altesse the Rajah, remains in our country, the honor of

Continued on page 39

Account Squared

Continued from page 19

France is at stake. His person and his : property must be guarded. Et voilà tout!"

Allison hastened to apologize.

“It was infernally rude of me,” he said. “But are we to understand, then, that you j have no notion who may be concerned in such a plot?”*

“Monsieur, none whatever.” Barjolet j waved an expressive hand. “They, whoever i they are, may be already in this room with ' us. Meanwhile”—he turned to the secrej tary—“one trusts that His Highness’s jewels i are in safe keeping? In the custody of some bank, perhaps?”

The secretary’s expression betokened his discomfiture at the question.

“My master is very old-fashioned noblej man,” he explained dolefully. “He prefers ; that I should be sole custodian. But, of course, there is strong robber-proof safe at j the villa, and the key I wear always round my neck. As my friend, Captain Allison. ; can tell you,” he added stoutly, "I am not one anxious to blow a trumpet, but any attempt on the State jewels must be made over my corpus vile!"

The detective looked dubious.

“I am not presuming to doubt the courage of monsieur,” he said drily, “but we know not with whom we have to deal. Monsieur must forgive me for believing that a bank would be safer.”

He rose and handed the amount of his bill to a waiter.

“I have written on a card the address of my lodging in the Condamine,” he said. “When there is anything to report, I shall inform you. Meanwhile”—he tapped lightly the side of his coat—“I shall keep open both my eyes and ears. Messieurs, au revoir!"

AFTER dinner at his hotel, Allison lighted a cigar and resolved to spend an hour or two at the Casino.

In the stifling, perfumed atmosphere of the Salles Privées was collected the nightly concourse of gamblers round the tables devoted to roulette and trente-et-quarante.

A small gathering of spectators was clustered about the railed-off enclosure, where the members of a Greek syndicate were struggling to win a fortune at baccarat.

For some time Allison amused himself with a tour of the rooms, watching the play and searching for an acquaintance to talk to. Then, just when he had become sufficiently bored to contemplate returning to his hotel, he caught sight of Sonia Markovina. Radiantly beautiful, in a dress of pale blue and silver, she was standing at one of the roulette tables, occasionally staking one of her louis plaques on a number.

An error on the part of one of the croupiers gave him an opportunity of speaking to her. They had both staked successfully on the same number, and the croupier with his rake pushed the satisfactory pile of winnings across to Allison, with a courteous, ‘‘A vous, monsieur?"

In tolerable French Allison laughingly told him that half of it belonged to the lady. Sonia thanked him with a friendly smile as j he passed her her share, observing with only j a slight trace of a foreign accent:

“Like all your countrymen, monsieur, you ¡ are honest.”

For a while they stood side by side, playing and exchanging an occasional word ; and ; she readily agreed to Allison’s proposal that ; they should have something cool to drink j in the bar, where an open window allowed a current of fresher air to penetrate into the superheated rooms.

His obviously sincere admiration of her dancing led her to speak about herself, and he was soon in possession of her history. As was the case with so many Russians of good family, the aftermath of the war had found her and her people practically destitute. One of her brothers was a chauffeur in Paris; an uncle, formerly an admiral, was now a major-domo in a Montmartre café. She had spent her small store of money on training to become a professional dancer. It had j

been hard work, but she was beginning to reap some success.

‘T think you’ve been perfectly splendid,” Allison assured her. He noticed Lala Sita fiam making his way out of the rooms and signalled to him to join them. “I want to introduce another of your admirers,” he told her. “Well, Lala Sahib, have any luck tonight?”

The secretan’ grinned ruefully. “I was nipped in the bud by a shortage of cash,” he confessed, “so I was going home. One cannot, unfortunately, eat a cake at both ends and still have it,” he added with true Oriental philosophy.

“My friend, Lala Sita Ram, is private secretary to an Indian rajah,” Allison explained.

“But how romantic!” Sonia exclaimed, enchanted. “One thinks at once of the Arabian Nights. Tell me, does your rajah ride upon an elephant, covered from head to foot with jewels?”

“His Highness, as a rule, prefers motor car,” answered the little secretary prosaically. “Elephant is highly incommodious quadruped in congested traffic of native bazaars. But as for the jewels of my revered master, they are famous.”

Allison remarked with amusement how, womanlike, Sonia’s eyes sparkled at the mere j mention of such things.

“Rubies and diamonds! Pearls and emeralds!”she cried rapturously. “Oh, how I should love to see them !”

The secretary stiffened instinctively.

“Without His Highness’s permission that could not be managed,” he demurred. “But there are at the villa other tilings that I should be happy to show you. Eastern curios, carpets and carvings—”

He broke off, noticing that the lady appeared, of a sudden, to have lost all interest in the conversation. Allison, too, was watching her in surprise. She was leaning forward over the table, gazing with ; an expression of anxious speculation at the doorway. His glance followed hers. Lounging against the door panel, lighting a cigarette, in apparent ignorance of their proximity, was the detectivé, Barjolet.

“Do you know that chap?” Allison enquired of her.

There was the faintest tinge of hesitation as, with a little shake of her head, she answered his question.

“No. I was mistaken. Just for a moment 1 thought that I had recognized his face.”

“He is official of the Sûreté,” the secretary blurted out incautiously.

“Of the Sûreté?”

Allison quickly interposed. “We met him i today in a restaurant. The Casino always i has its private detectives knocking about.

I He seemed quite a decent sort of fellow.”

! Deliberately he turned the conversation,

; proposing an expedition for the next morning I to the old-world village of Roquebrune; and j Sonia, with evident pleasure, accepted his I invitation. She had, she said, all her j mornings free.

T AI RING the next few days there were other expeditions, and it was not long before Allison frankly admitted to himself that he had fallen in love with Sonia.

There was no reason whatever why he I should not ask her to marry him. He was I well enough off ; there were no troublesome : relations ready to cavil at his marrying a dancer. For the matter of that, Sonia was j manifestly a lady whose birth was every bit ; good as his own. He had very soon i learned that she had no real love for her I profession. She regarded it merely as a j means of earning a livelihood, enabling her likewise to help her chauffeur brother in Paris.

As to her feelings toward himself, Allison was obliged to confess that he was very j much in the dark. She certainly seemed to appreciate his company. She was always a gay and charming companion. There had J been one moonlit evening, when they had i sat together for a while in the Casino gardens . Well, he had made up his mind to take his luck and ask her to marry him.

So far as the main reason for his visit to : Monte Carlo was concerned, there appeared

to be nothing doing. He was more than ever inclined to consider the anonymous letter of warning an idiotic hoax; and Barjolet never had anything to report. In company with Allison and the secretary, the detective had inspected the villa at Eze and expressed himself satisfied, though he had again proffered his advice that the State ornaments would be safer in the custody of a bank. Apart from this, the worthy detective could only counsel patience and apparently spent most of his time like any other pleasure seeker, loafing around the sunny, festive principality.

It was soon after this that Allison discovered, much to his dismay, that he was becoming a prey to jealousy. He tried to turn the idea out of his mind but it persisted. There was no doubt about it; the detective was seeing a great deal too much of Sonia.

Allison found himself pondering how, of late, on more than one occasion she had excused herself from going with him somewhere on the plea that she had already received an invitation from Monsieur Barjolet. She was, of course, her own mistress, free to make such friends as she might wish. The detective was a goodlooking fellow, and amusing after the rather vapid fashion of his compatriots. Allison recalled uneasily the Frenchman’s outspoken admiration of Sonia’s dancing on the occasion of their first meeting at the Ambassadeurs. No doubt, most women, artistes especially, enjoyed that kind of flattering adoration. Yet somehow he had imagined Sonia different.

A day or two later there occurred an incident which confirmed his suspicions. Sonia had promised to dine with him and go afterward to a performance of the Russian ballet. And while he waited for her in the hall of the hotel, there came her telephone message that she had a raging headache and was going to bed.

In the worst of tempers, Allison sat down to a solitary meal. He reminded himself that it was nearly two days since he had last seen her; and now there was this headache. A headache! Probably due to her gallivanting with the fascinating Monsieur Barjolet in the full glare of the morning sun.

Dinner over, he sat discontentedly smoking, in two minds as to what he should do with himself. There was no one to whom he cared to offer his spare ticket. Finally he decided that he might as well go himself to the ballet. After all, he had to put in the evening somehow.

He got his coat and hat and set forth. To his jaundiced imagination, the Casino square seemed fuller even than usual of futile revellers. Ahead of, him, a couple emerged from the Café de Paris, entered a car drawn up at the curb and drove off. As it passed him. the light from a lamp fell full on the car window, and he saw to his wrathful indignation that the driver was Barjolet and that the woman beside him was Sonia.

TN A fit of cold fury, oblivious to what was -*■ happening on the stage, Allison sat out the first of the three ballets. For some reason which he could not fathom, Sonia had deliberately lied to him about her headache. But what could be her object in throwing him over, at the last moment, in favor of the detective?

Directly the lights went up for the interval, he began to make his way through the chattering groups in the atrium, intending to return to his hotel. But just before he reached the cloak room, he saw the small figure of the Babu pressing toward him through the throng.

The secretary’s face was drawn with anxiety, and his hand trembled with excitement as he thrust upon his friend what looked like a scrap of paper tom hastily from a pocketbook.

“They told me at the hotel that I should find you here.” the Babu burst out. “Please read that, and tell me what we ought to do.”

The message was laconic in its brevity:

“Come immediately to the villa!”

It bore Barjolet’s signature.

‘TT1 drive you there at once,” Allison

said. “It won’t take me ten minutes to fetch the car.”

In an even shorter space of time they were speeding down the Condamine hill on the road to Eze. While he guided the twoseater at a perilous pace through the traffic, Allison was vainly endeavoring to pierce the mystery'. Only about an hour before, he had seen—he was ready to swear to it—the detective driving away from the Café de Paris in company with Sonia; and now had come this imperative summons. In response to his question as to who was ordinarily in charge of the villa during the evening, the secretary was able to reassure him. Madan Mohan, the Babu’s own confidential servant was always on guard; and Madan Mohan would allow no person whom he did not know into the house.

A brief run brought them to Eze. The villa stood in a spacious garden some way up the hill. Allison left the two-seater outside the gate, and they climbed the steep path which led through an avenue of overhanging palms. Except for the distant rumble of a train along the sea front below them, there was scarcely a sound.

The house was shrouded in darkness, but they could see a glimmer of light through the shutters of the rooms which Allison knew to be the secretary’s private apartments. There was no sign of anyone about.

The entrance door stood open. They hurried along the passage, and the Babu uttered a sharp exclamation as he stumbled and nearly fell over a body lying huddled at the foot of the stairs. Allison drew an electric torch from his pocket and flashed it on to the face of a man in Indian dress, who lay motionless on his back.

“Madan Mohan!” he exclaimed wrathfully. “They’ve got at him somehow!” Then, as the man on the floor groaned and attempted to raise himself, he spoke more cheerfully. “Chloroform, I think. He’ll come round after a bit. We’d better get upstairs and see what has happened.”

They ran up the staircase to the first floor, and entered the room which the secretary used as a study. At the far end of it, obviously expecting them, was the detective; and close to him, in front of the shuttered window, was a woman wrapped in a long, dark blue cloak. She turned her head as they came in, and Allison saw immediately that the woman was Sonia. What on earth could she be doing there?

“I got your message, Monsieur Barjolet,” the secretary began.

A sardonic grin overspread the detective’s countenance, though he answered with his usual suave politeness:

“That is evident, monsieur. And now I have one trifling request to make of you. You will be so good as to give me the key that you wear always round your neck.” The secretary stared at him blankly. “But I do not understand?”

Barjolet’s voice rasped truculently:

“Must I, then, repeat myself? Allons, done! The key of the safe. Give it me!” Before either Allison or his companion could speak, he whipped from his pocket an automatic and levelled it at them.

TO BOTH men watching him in amazement there came instant understanding. So this was the plot ! The anonymous letter of warning followed by a self-styled representative of the Sûreté; the woman his confederate. After all, the scheme was ridiculous in its simplicity.

Allison shot a glance of contempt at

Sonia, who, silent, her face averted, remained standing by the window. The woman whom he had hoped to make his wife, the associate of a common crook! How easily he had swallowed her story. Lord, what a fool he had been!

His gaze reverted to the sneering scoundrel holding the pistol.

“You ruddy swine!” he shouted, and leaped forward, regardless of the levelled weapon. He checked instinctively as there came the crack of the automatic, and a bullet chipped a lump of plaster from the wall behind him.

The order was snapped out:

“Stay where you are, monsieur le capitaine! Next time that I fire, I shall not intend to miss.”

The woman moved swiftly away from the I window and impatiently addressed her conj federate:

“We waste time, mon ami! The car is , waiting to carry us down to the boat. Give j me the pistol, while you possess yourself of | the key.”

With a nod of acquiescence, he passed her the automatic and advanced toward where the little secretary confronted him, palefaced but defiant. And then, before the ruffian could take more than a step or two, with a lithe bound she was upon him. one hand gripping him by the shoulder, while the pistol was jammed against his neck.

Her voice rang out exultantly:

‘'Entrez! Entrez vite! Monsieur Forain!” The door flew open to admit a burly man j in the uniform of a French inspector, fol¡ lowed by a couple of agents de police. There j was the click of handcuffs.

The burly inspector stepped back and surveyed his scowling prisoner.

“It was clever of you, Pierre Lemoine,” j he remarked grimly, “but mademoiselle here was cleverer. Salaud que tu es! This time it will mean for you Devil’s Island!”

While the inspector was giving his men ? their instructions, Allison crossed to where i Sonia stood holding the pistol. He took it j from lier and laid it on a table.

“Sonia,” he asked, “can you ever forgive me for doubting you?”

“It was my misfortune, mon ami ” she answered simply, “that I might not tell you before; but the orders of the Sûreté were strict. You see,” she went on, “I was certain that I had recognized him as the man who,

. two years ago, had given false evidence before a Paris court against my brother about a crime that he had himself committed.”

Allison still looked puzzled. “But how did you manage—?”

Her eyes twinkled mischievously. “Ah, but that was not difficult. Monsieur Barjolet—the late Monsieur Barjolet—fortunately happened to admire me. It was easy to make him believe that I was ready to fall in with his plans.”

Allison whispered: “Barjolet was not the only man making plans, Sonia. I’ve got one of my own to tell you about.”

She smiled at him adorably.

While Allison was packing her into the car for the return journey, Lala Sita Ram, private secretary, summed up the situation with respect to their late antagonist.

“The man,” said he, “was a highly pernicious bacterium. So the Almighty has ! rewarded him tit for tat. That, in my ■ opeenion, was a bit of arlright and quite j according to Cocker!”