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First published in The Popular Magazine, 1 October 1912

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The Popular Magazine, 1 October 1912, with "Two Gentlemen Incog."


Paul Darraq promised to be as famous a creation as The Thinking Machine; Jacques Futrelle had planned a long series of stories about him; but he had only written three of the tales when disaster met him on the way home from Europe. This is the first of the three, a noteworthy story even if another man had written it, doubly noteworthy because of its brilliant author who has laid down his pen for an aeon or two, till the Master of all good workmen shall set him to work anew.


MY first meeting with Paul Darraq occurred in Washington a few days after Grover Cleveland's Venezuelan message had sent a flame of war talk around the world; our subsequent meetings, in all sorts of remote corners of the earth, under circumstances sometimes strange, sometimes strenuous. In a way, these meetings reflect the high lights of history during the last fourteen years. Yet I had known Darraq for eight years before I knew his profession, or, indeed, knew that he had a profession; and I had known him a dozen years, two years of that time intimately, before he ever let drop in my presence any reference whatsoever to anything he had ever done. And first and last and all the time Darraq is a man who does things.

It was in 1895 that the Venezuelan message was sent to Congress. At that time I was connected with the Washington bureau of a great New York newspaper. Darraq had just returned from Caracas, and I tried to get a statement from him as to existing conditions there. At my question, he looked at me as if astonished, then denied flatly, albeit pleasantly, that he had ever been in South America. My information had come from no less a source than a member of Mr. Cleveland's cabinet. Foolishly, I told him so.

"He has made a mistake," he replied simply.

In after years that casual remark came to mean more to me than it did then, because it was not a great while before that particular member of the cabinet was permitted to resign. Now I am convinced, although he has never referred to the matter again, that Darraq had something to do with that resignation. The cabinet member did make a mistake—a mistake in telling me that Darraq had ever been in Caracas; a mistake in even mentioning Darraq's name to me; a mistake in allowing to escape anything which would associate Darraq with the government, in my mind.

Twice after that, within a few months, I met Darraq in the streets of Washington. Each time I nodded to him and each time he nodded to me and smiled his recognition. Finally he passed beyond my ken, the whirligig of time revolved, and I became a special correspondent for my paper. It was in that capacity that I was hustled off to Havana in 1898, immediately after the disaster to the battleship Maine in the harbor there. I had been in Havana only a few hours when I ran across Darraq and another gentleman, this last of a pronounced Castilian type, in the Malecón.

It had been only a little more than a year since I had seen Darraq, and I remembered him perfectly. I nodded to him. He stared at me and passed on, still talking, with not one sign of recognition. My impression at the moment was merely that he had forgotten me. True, there had been a nodding acquaintance in Washington, but here, fifteen hundred miles away, in a foreign city, meeting me unexpectedly—there was no particular reason why he should have remembered me. This first impression was dispelled, however, when I returned to my hotel. I found a note there, just a couple of lines, signed "D." It ran like this:

Please do not recognize or address me unless I address you. I don't want to seem discourteous, but believe me, this is of the highest importance.

Naturally, the note piqued my curiosity, but it was several years later that that curiosity was satisfied. Now I know that Darraq is the only living man who knows what happened to the Maine; the other man who knew was assassinated at the Buffalo Exposition in 1901.

I didn't see Darraq again until some time in July of 1898—the day I remember that Hobson and his seven men were exchanged by the Spanish admiral Cervera for some of his own men held prisoners by the American blockading force. On the afternoon of that day a small boat put out from shore three miles west of the entrance to Santiago harbor and made for the flagship—the New York. Darraq was in the boat. He was closeted with Admiral Sampson for four hours, and when he came out I met him face to face on deck. Remembering the note, I waited for him to speak. He didn't. Instead, he reentered the boat and returned ashore.

Our next meeting occurred in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, in 1899. I was one of three war correspondents who had managed to get that far before we were stopped and compelled to remain there cooling our heels while the Boer-British war was raging. The three of us were at dinner one night when Darraq sauntered into the dining room and dropped into the odd chair at our table.

"Hello, Lester," he greeted me familiarly.

We were knocking about there together for a week or more, the four of us, and it was then and there that I began to understand the man and like him. In all of that week there was not the slightest reference between us to the circumstances of either of our previous meetings. I think it was in Pietermaritzsburg that I first got a glimmering of an idea as to who and what Darraq really was; but it was four years later before I really knew.

The world whirled on, and at the end of another year I found myself in Peking, being one of the foreigners who were besieged in that city during the Boxer trouble. We "foreign devils," as the Boxers classically dubbed us, were huddled about the embassies and legations—American, English, French, German, all of us—awaiting the inevitable with differing degrees of equanimity. Of necessity, every foreigner in Peking at that time was known to every other foreigner; and Darraq was not one of us. Yet one day I spied him standing upon the alabaster steps of the Temple of Heaven staring down thoughtfully into the streets below.

"Hello, Lester," he said again, much as if he had seen me an hour or so before. "How are you?"

My astonishment must have been obvious.

"Where did you come from?" I demanded. "You haven't been here all along? How did you get in?"

Darraq smiled that ready smile of his and shook his head.

"I have just delivered some good news to the embassies," he replied.

"You mean that we are to be relieved?" I asked.

Darraq smiled again. Forty-eight hours later the Indian army corps, headed by its British officers, came rattling into Peking, sweeping a path ahead of them by a continuous, spitting fire of rifles and—well, the world knows the rest of it. In some way, and alone, Darraq had penetrated that line of yellow-skinned murderers who for weeks pounded at the gates of the Chinese city with the lust of blood upon them; in some way he had run the gantlet ahead of the relieving force and slid through the encircling talons. Some day he will tell me how he did it; I have never asked him. It would be useless, because he answers fewer questions than any man I have ever met.

For many months after that I lost sight of him. Several of those months he had spent in Berlin, I learned later, but he managed to be in Servia at the time of the assassination of Alexander I. and Queen Draga. I next met him in a geisha house in Tokyo during the Russo-Japanese war; next, four months after that, in Moscow, when that Russian city ran red with rioting. A month passed and I came upon him in Pall Mall, and two days later, quite by accident, we had dinner together in a cozy little student place in the Latin Quarter of Paris—Café d'Harcourt, it was—one of those familiar places where the waiter is always willing to correct one's French. I know he put himself to a good deal of trouble with mine. A few weeks later I sailed from Liverpool for New York, and the last man I saw on Prince George's Dock was Darraq.

Shortly after this the character of our relations changed; the barriers of his reserve melted, and I came to know him for what he was. I had believed him to be connected with the secret-service bureau, but this I found to be incorrect. His was a power beyond that, and greater. I suppose secret diplomatic agent would give a better idea of his profession, but it was beyond even that.

Perhaps the best way to make it clear would be to explain that the president of the United States is allowed each year by Congress about one hundred thousand dollars as an emergency fund, and there is never any accounting to be made of the manner in which the president utilizes this fund. Each year the bulk of it is turned back into the treasury minus a sum which, if we allow for a liberal salary and traveling expenses, would be fair payment for a man of Darraq's ability.

At the beginning of our intimacy Darraq had returned to New York—I wasn't aware of it—and hailed me one day from a taxicab in Forty-second Street. I hardly knew the thin, wan face peering at me from the window; a face marred ruthlessly by lines of suffering, the eyes sunken, the lips pale. There was the same ready smile, but obviously it came with an effort. I grasped his hand heartily; it was waxlike, flabby.

"Hello, Lester," lie greeted me as always. "I am glad to see you; get in."

"What's the matter?" I inquired anxiously. "Have you been ill?"

"More than that," he replied. "I got a pistol shot out West a couple of months ago, and I am just pulling myself together again. I am afraid I am out of commission for some time to come."

"Who shot you? How did it happen?"

Darraq smiled and shook his head. I might have known that would be the answer.

When we reached Darraq's hotel and I assisted him out, I was amazed to see the change in him, a change which had not been entirely apparent in the cab. The broad, well-set-up shoulders were drooping now; the elasticity of his walk had gone, and he tottered feebly; the vitality and glow of health was no more, and he seemed old, old.

Soon after this Darraq took an apartment adjoining mine, and there began our friendship. We were together a great deal in those days, and, in a way, Darraq was dependent upon me, for I represented the greater outer world and he had no other callers. There I did my work, and there, as months passed, the color came back to Darraq's face, the sparkle to his eyes, his lips grew red again, his smile lost that suggestion of suffering—and he became himself.

So it was I came to know Paul Darraq, know him, I believe, as no other man ever did or ever will. At times he has taken me into his confidence and has told me things casually that illumined as if by daylight a dozen dark mysteries and sinister tragedies in high places. In my writings there have been times when I have required exact information upon all subjects on the earth and above it. I have never hesitated to ask Darraq a question when I thought I was not encroaching upon forbidden ground, and he has never hesitated at such times to answer.

His fund of knowledge is as varied as it is astounding. He knows as much about the fighting strength of Britain's navy as her prime minister; he knows more about Germany's huge army and her forts and her ordnance than the kaiser; he knows more about Japanese trickery as related to the United States and its future than the mikado; he knows more about the Dreyfus case than high officials were ever permitted to learn, and he knows—he knows—what happened to the Maine in Havana harbor.

There is no mystery as to Darraq's profession, for the simple reason that to the world at large he has none; he is merely a gentleman of leisure who travels extensively. Nor is there, in his physical make-up, the slightest thing to suggest the glamour of mystery which surrounds him. He is of medium height, clean-shaven, well set up, with frank, friendly eyes and a charming smile. He speaks many languages, and is of that neutral complexion which, while it fails to stamp him as a native of any country, would at the same time aid him in passing as a native of either. As a matter of fact, he is French-American. His father came to this country about the time of the Civil War, and married a Miss Calvert, of Maryland.


ON the seventeenth of May, 19—, it was officially announced by the press of a northern capital of Europe that the sovereign was slightly indisposed and probably would not be able to leave his room for several days. It was nothing serious—a cold or some other trivial thing—and, while assurance was given that there was not the remotest cause for uneasiness, yet bulletins as to his majesty's condition would be issued from time to time. On the afternoon of that same day Paul Darraq, at his apartments in New York City, received a cable dispatch in the code from Paris, and eight days later he appeared upon the docks of the Blue Star Line in the uniform of a customs inspector. At his own request he was assigned to the A-B-C inspection division.

It so chanced that the great transatlantic liner due that afternoon from Cherbourg, Southampton, and Plymouth was delayed a dozen hours by wind and storm, therefore she was not warped in until the following morning.

Immediately the gangplank was cleared, there was a rush of impatient, travel-tired passengers, eager to know again the solid feel of earth under their feet; a clamor and a hubbub, a kissing and embracing, a laughing and weeping, and a scurrying for baggage. For a moment the customs inspectors were the most important individuals in the world—the objective point of an insistent flood of persuasion oddly mingled with invective.

Two gentlemen, who had been among the first down the gangplank, paused uncertainly at its foot, asked a question of a porter, then hurried over to the A-B-C inspector division. One of them, a man of perhaps fifty years, was of medium height, sturdily set up, square as a soldier across the shoulders; and there was that in the unwavering eyes, the straight nose, the positive chin, the hauteur of his manner, which marked him as a man of distinction, of power even. His hair was slightly gray at the temples, his face clean-shaven, his complexion of that ruddiness which is characteristic of northern Europe. In his right hand he carried a heavy cane; His left was thrust idly into a pocket of his light overcoat. The other gentleman was shorter, grosser, coarser, and typically Teutonic.

They paused beside Darraq.

"Will you tell us, please," the shorter gentleman inquired in faltering English, "if baggage for Von Arnim will come to this division or to the V division?"

"It will come here," Darraq replied, without looking around.

The shorter man turned to his companion, and now he spoke in French.

"Your baggage will come to this division," he translated, and he bowed slightly. "Mine will go farther down in the H division. If you will pardon me, I will go immediately and attend to it."

The taller man made an impatient motion of assent.

"Is there no way to hurry up the inspection?" he asked brusquely in French. "I should like—I must—get away from here as soon as possible. We've already lost twelve hours." His eyes darted hither and thither through the crowd. "And there's always a chance of being recognized, you know," he added significantly.

"I understand, sire," his companion agreed hurriedly. Peculiarly enough, he was speaking English now.

"S-s-sh!" warned the other suddenly with a quick, meaning glance at Darraq. "Be careful!" And this, too, was spoken in English, very excellent English.

But Darraq was paying not the slightest attention to them; he was busily turning over the contents of a couple of hand-bags. The taller gentleman's cane rattled a nervous tattoo on the dock; the shorter gentleman addressed Darraq.

"If it would be possible to oblige us by examining Herr Von Arnim's baggage immediately—" he began tentatively.

Darraq straightened up suddenly and faced the tall man. For one scant instant there was an expression of astonishment on his face, and the other must have noticed it, for his eyes were fixed in an unwavering stare. It was a challenge.

"Is this Herr Von Arnim?" Darraq inquired.

"Yes," was the unhesitating response in English. "You seem to be astonished?"

"Do I?" Darraq questioned evasively. "Perhaps it was your startling resemblance to—to some picture or some person I have seen somewhere. I beg your pardon. Here is your baggage now, I believe; if you will give me your keys?"

He turned away to open the trunk. Herr Von Arnim shot an exultant glance at his companion.

"You had better hurry up your own baggage, Hauptmann," he said measuredly—this, too, in English. "I'll be ready before you are."

To the accompaniment of the cane's restless tattoo Darraq finished the inspection of the baggage, and looked up to find Herr Von Arnim graciously extending a bank note.

"We are not permitted to accept gratuities," Darraq told him courteously. And then, curiously: "Did any one ever tell you, sir, that you greatly resemble one of the reigning monarchs of Europe?"

"I have been told so, yes," was the steady reply. "Why?" And again there seemed to be a challenge in his eyes.

"I was merely struck by a resemblance that is perfectly amazing," and Darraq shrugged his shoulders. "I believe, though, the pictures show this particular monarch with a mustache; you are clean-shaven, of course."

Herr Von Arnim and Herr Hauptmann entered an automobile on the dock and were driven away. For a minute or more Darraq stood staring after them with a puzzled, bewildered expression.

At the end of another hour he was in possession of the few facts concerning them to be picked up aboard ship. They had taken passage at Cherbourg at the last moment and had occupied adjoining suites connected by a door. During the trip they had held aloof from the remainder of the ship's company, having their meals in their suites, rarely appearing on deck, and then only at night. Further, Herr Von Arnim was accompanied by his secretary and a valet.

"I should like to have seen them," Darraq mused when he heard of it.

In his hotel on the following morning Herr Von Arnim received a letter dated Washington, D. C, and signed by Chief Campbell of the secret service. Briefly, it said:

Out of consideration for the personal safety of certain distinguished visitors to the United States, this bureau has made it a rule to delegate men to attend them, inconspicuously, of course. This precaution has been taken in your case. My men will in no way embarrass or annoy you—probably you will never even see them—while, if there should come an occasion when you need them, they will be at your service.

Herr Von Arnim read the note and, laughing heartily, tossed it across the breakfast table to Herr Hauptmann.

"We have drawn the enemy's fire, Hauptmann," he remarked.

And meanwhile Darraq had utterly disappeared.

Against a languorous, deep-toned background of blue a woman sat studying with velvet-amber eyes the thoughtful face of the man before her. It was a striking rather than a strong face, deeply bronzed, with straight nose, full lips, and dark, moody eyes. Gradually her scarlet mouth curled into a smile of amusement, and finally she laughed outright, a little rippling laugh that dispelled instantly the shadows which had settled down upon Lieutenant Ralph Stuart's countenance. Impetuously he stretched out one hand toward her.

"No," she laughed, and drew back her slim, white fingers. Her eyes met his fairly, daringly, and the shimmering head was tilted. "No," she said again.

The man arose suddenly, and paced back and forth across the room half a dozen times. He stopped in front of her at last with clouded brow, and she looked up at him soberly.

"But, Carline, it's treason," he declared bluntly.

The woman raised her brows in astonishment.

"No," she objected. "It's only—"

"And knowing it's treason, you don't hesitate to ask what you are asking?"

The woman regarded him earnestly for a long time; the smile had gone.

"Suppose, Ralph," she interrogated slowly, "suppose you and you alone had access to some great commercial secret which had been permitted to lie dormant for years, would you hesitate to take advantage of it?"

"That would merely be dishonesty," Lieutenant Stuart explained. "This is treason."

"It would not be dishonesty even," she denied. "According to standards of to-day, you would merely be taking advantage of an opportunity. I am offering you an opportunity," she went on rapidly, "an opportunity to exchange your minor rank of lieutenant in the United States navy for the rank of commodore in one of the greatest navies of Europe. I fail to see—"

"With conditions," he interrupted, "conditions which I hardly believe you would ask me to accept if—if you understood them fully."

"Certainly with conditions," she agreed readily. "One cannot expect extraordinary promotion without some extraordinary return for it. It would be treason for a man to sell his country, or do that thing which would weaken or endanger his country if, for instance, his country was engaged in or on the verge of war. The United States is not even remotely threatened with war; my country is." Her eyes were aflame; her voice thrilled with earnestness. "For more years than you would believe we have been preparing for it. It may come to-day, to-morrow, or next week, or it may not come for five years, but it will come."

Lieutenant Stuart was staring at her, startled; he dropped into a seat facing her.

"You mean war with—" he began.

"I mean war with the country that you think," she ran on hurriedly. Her hand fluttered a little and came to rest on his sleeve. "So, you see, this thing which is of no great immediate value to your country because you are beyond the possible reach of war at present, will make my country invincible. You can give it to us; my sovereign will pay your price because we need it immediately, not two or three years from now. We could get it, of course, in that time by other methods, so we will get it whether you give it to us or not; but if you give it now, there is promotion waiting for you, promotion, too, without dishonor, because tracings of the plans could be delivered, the originals left where they are, and in a few weeks you could offer your resignation to accept this higher rank in the naval service of my country."

The amber-velvet eyes were raised to his eagerly; his hands were working nervously.

"Treason, nevertheless," he said again.

"No," she denied. Then, suddenly, her manner changed; the ivory-white of her face flushed to rosiness, a filmy mist obscured the limpid eyes, and the lids were lowered. "You have asked all of me, Ralph, and yet you refuse this single thing which would mean so much to both of us. I am ambitious for you—there's no limit to my ambition—and it's so simple, after all." Timidly her eyes were raised again. "It will be ten, perhaps twenty, years before you could hope to reach the same rank in your navy, and—"

She stooped under the steady, hungry gaze of the man, and the shimmering head dropped wearily. Her hands lay quiescent in his own, limp.

"Look at me, Carline," he commanded. Slowly she raised her face. "I have asked you to be my wife because I love you more than any other thing in this world. Do you want the man who gives you a love so holy as mine—do you want me—to go hand in hand with dishonor? Even a dishonor that is hidden?"

"You won't understand me, Ralph," she argued pleadingly. "It isn't dishonor. The secret is useless to your country now; it is of untold value to mine. In return for a service of such value my sovereign is prepared to honor you as no foreigner was ever before honored by my country. I am ambitious for you," she smiled sadly, "and perhaps for myself, too. And, please don't misunderstand me, I am not mercenary, but you are not rich, and I have always been accustomed to every luxury. It seems so sordid to put our love upon such a basis, but you understand, don't you? Why make me go on?"

She was pleading now, her misty, moist eyes upraised to his face. Suddenly he arose, lifted her to her feet and held her close, close to him for a dozen heartbeats.

"You love me, Carline?" he whispered.

"With all my heart and soul," she said softly.

"Then why does—does it all matter?"

"Because I do love you so," she explained. "Because I should want my—my husband to be a great man among great men." She was silent a moment. "You will do it, Ralph?" she begged hurriedly, pantingly. "You will? You will for my sake? It wouldn't take an hour to trace the plans. They are in your custody alone, and no one need ever know. You will? You will?"

"It is treason," the man said again earnestly; "no argument will make it anything less; but, after all, treason is a little thing compared to your love."

"You mean you will?" she asked quickly, eagerly.

For a long time he stood motionless, staring at her. The lights were at play in her tawny hair; the glow of the poppy was on her checks, and the perfume of her breath went to his head like wine.

"You want me to, don't you?" he asked in turn.

"If you would—if you only would?" she pleaded.

"There's nothing in the world that I wouldn't do for you," he said fiercely between clenched teeth. He bent forward and pressed his lips reverently to her own.

After a moment she slid out of his arms.

"When?" she queried eagerly.

"It's only a matter of hours," he replied absently. "I could have duplicate plans ready by to-morrow night."

The woman stretched out both hands to him and laughed gleefully, triumphantly. His powerful fingers gripped her white wrists savagely and he dragged her to his arms.

"Don't laugh!" he commanded harshly. "I don't want you to laugh. You have made a traitor of me."

She laughed again.

"Ungrateful wretch!" she taunted. "I have made a commodore of you."

That night Lieutenant Stuart returned to Washington. On the following morning a New York newspaper carried a semi-jocose article in which it brought Herr Von Arnim and Herr Hauptmann into a sudden glare of publicity. The point of it was the startling resemblance between Herr Von Arnim and a certain willful monarch of northern Europe who was supposed to be ill and confined to his palace. As the newspapers pointed out, the only real difference in photographs of the two men was Herr Von Arnim's lack of a mustache. Purely as a coincidence, it was pointed out that Herr Von Arnim always carried his left hand in his pocket, and the emperor in question, as is well known, is afflicted with a distorted left arm.

While the press of New York was assimilating this odd little newspaper story, there came another development which might or might not have been significant. The German ambassador left Washington suddenly and called upon Herr Von Arnim at his hotel. He remained with him for an hour or more, all of which led to vivid conjectures in the afternoon papers. Herr Von Arnim, either wittingly or unwittingly, complicated the situation by utter silence.

Lieutenant Stuart, on his way to New York that afternoon, read the newspapers in so far as they related to Herr Von Arnim with blankly incredulous eyes. Of all men in the world perhaps he could best understand the motive which might perhaps bring the emperor of to America. It would be, of course, to get possession of those half dozen thin tissue sheets which the lieutenant carried in his pocket. But why had he not intrusted the work to an agent?

Lieutenant Stuart found no direct answer to that question, but it was possible to reach a hazy general conclusion that the emperor would not dare trust any one else on a mission so delicate that the least misstep might precipitate unpleasantness with the United States.

His brow still clouded, the lieutenant went straight to a small hotel in Fifth Avenue and sent his card to Miss Wressels. She received him in her private parlor, and there, as he held her in his arms again, he forgot that hideous sense of shame which had tormented him mercilessly; forgot the emperor and Herr Von Arnim; forgot everything save this woman who had given herself to him as a price of his dishonor.

"Carline!" he whispered, as he kissed her lips, her hair, her slim, white fingers. "Now you are mine, mine!"

The woman held him off at arm's length the while she studied his face with searching eyes.

"Did you bring the—the tracings?" she asked eagerly.

He nodded and touched his breast; there was the crisp crackling of paper. Dumbly, moodily, he stood for a long time with her hands held prisoner in his own.

"I would have killed a man who dared to say that I would ever do such a thing," he said slowly, "and yet for you there is nothing I would leave undone."

"Nonsense!" She laughed a little nervously, and there was a peculiar exultant note in her voice. "You have taken advantage of an opportunity, and now, immediately, you shall receive your reward. You shall personally deliver the plans into the hands of my emperor—now within the hour."

Lieutenant Stuart was staring at her, startled, dazed even. "You mean he is here? Here in New York?" he asked breathlessly. "The emperor of——"

The word was stifled on his lips by one white hand. She nodded.

"This Herr Von Arnim story, then, is correct?" he went on.

"Not altogether," she replied soberly. "But come, we are wasting time," she continued gayly. "In half an hour now you will be a commodore in one of the greatest navies of the world."

They left the hotel in a cab, and a few minutes later ascended the steps of one of the small, old-fashioned dwelling houses in East Thirty-second Street. Lieutenant Stuart was left downstairs for ten minutes while Miss Wessels was ushered into a reception room on the second floor. Seated near a window was a man of perhaps fifty years, of medium height, sturdily set up, square as a soldier across the shoulders, and there was that in the unwavering eyes, the straight nose, the positive chin which marked him as a man of distinction, of power even. His hair was slightly gray at the temples, his face clean-shaven, his complexion of that ruddiness which is characteristic of northern Europe. In his right hand he held a heavy cane; his left was thrust idly into a pocket of his coat.

It so happened that at just that particular moment Herr Von Arnim and Herr Hauptmann were at dinner in their hotel, a score of blocks away, directly under the eyes of a dozen reporters and half that many photographers.

Miss Wessels bowed to the floor; the man inclined his head, but did not rise.

"Well?" he asked impatiently.

"The plans are ready to be placed in your hands, your—"

The man raised his right hand quickly, and she stopped.

"All of them?" he asked.

"All of them."

"And the price?"

"Lieutenant Ralph Stuart will, within a few weeks, resign from the American navy with the expectation of accepting a commission as commodore in your navy."

The man's white teeth closed with a snap; avaricious dreams of conquest long cherished were near to realization; a great island nation, bound hand and foot, was about to be laid at his feet.

"There will be no unpleasant consequences?" he asked curtly.

"There can be none. When Lieutenant Stuart learns that I do not love him, there will be an end of it." The woman shrugged her shapely shoulders. "He will kill himself."

"A traitor can do no less, in decency," the man commented tartly. "But he will not betray us before that? He will not be piqued to the point of confessing what he has done?"

"He is a coward," the woman sneered. "Cowards never confess. He is below awaiting your pleasure."

"Very good!" The man extended his hand, and Miss Wessels curtsied low as she touched it with her lips. "You have done well, fraulein."

Miss Wessels went out, and he arose as the door opened again to receive Lieutenant Stuart. The lieutenant brought his hand to salute and remained rigid, motionless, his face chalk-white. If there had been in his mind the slightest doubt of the identity of this man, it was dissipated at that moment when their eyes met.

"I, the ruler of a great empire, have traveled far to meet you, Lieutenant Stuart," his host said at last in English. "You will realize that that necessity must be overwhelming which brings me here secretly, against all precedent, to meet you, a private citizen." There was a mocking note in his voice.

"I believe I understand your—" Lieutenant Stuart began. A gesture halted the phrase of courtesy.

"Miss Wessels has acted with my authority throughout. Whatever promises of promotion or reward she has made I will myself assume, in the event, of course, the duplicate drawings are correct."

"They are correct." Lieutenant Stuart placed the thin tissue tracings in an eagerly outstretched right hand. "I would like you to understand," he went on, as if in justification of the thing he had done, "that it is not alone promotion that prompts me to this action. It is—"

"The heart of a woman, perhaps?"

"The heart of a woman."

"You will report to me in my capital at your leisure, lieutenant. Every promise that has to do with anything more substantial than the heart of a woman I will fulfill."

One raised hand indicated that the interview was at an end. The lieutenant bowed and withdrew. As his sturdy figure melted into the night the shadows opened and from the void came—Paul Darraq. He ascended the steps Lieutenant Stuart had just gone down, and handed a sealed envelope to a servant. Five minutes later he entered the room Lieutenant Stuart had just left, and bowed low before the man he found there. There was a bewildered, puzzled expression on this man's face, which gave way instantly to an expression of utter amazement as the light of recognition flashed in those eyes which, only a minute before, had been feverishly aglitter in a hurried scrutiny of the plans Lieutenant Stuart had left. For the moment the plans were hidden in a desk drawer.

"Herr Darraq!"

"Your majesty!"

Again Darraq bowed low. They had met before, these two; the strange manner of their meeting is a story for another time.

"Is it necessary for me to say that I am astonished, mein Herr, to see you here now?"

"I can well believe that, your majesty," returned Darraq. "I am here to tender the felicitations of my government to the most distinguished visitor our country has ever had, who is none the less welcome because he chooses to come secretly, and whose obvious desire to remain incognito will be most scrupulously respected. The note I bring from Washington is merely an excuse for me to extend congratulations to your majesty in person upon a speedy recovery from the illness which, according to daily bulletins in your majesty's capital, has afflicted you, and at the same time to offer my government's hospitality. Coming in any other manner or through any other person, as your majesty will readily see, the expression of my government's pleasure at your presence might have attracted that attention which your majesty is evidently so desirous of avoiding."

The unwavering eyes were searching Darraq's impassive face with mingled apprehension and curiosity. What did he know? What was being veiled behind this mask of courtesy? The duplicate plans! No. Stuart would not be such a fool as to leave his path open behind him.

"My appreciation of your government's solicitude in my behalf is equaled only by my embarrassment that by some unwitting act I have disclosed my presence here and made an expression of that solicitude necessary."

"Our chiefest regret is that your majesty did not choose to come at a time and in a manner which would have enabled my government to offer such entertainment as befitted your rank," Darraq continued. "And permit me, also, to express our regret that circumstances are such that your majesty must hasten back to your own country on the steamer which sails to-morrow."

The courteous little comedy was being played gravely.

"May I inquire, Herr Darraq, in what manner your government became aware of my presence? And how you happen to be acquainted with my intention of sailing to-morrow?" There was frank curiosity here.

"Your majesty's coming was made known to us by cable from a foreign agent of my government," Darraq elucidated readily. "Because I have the honor to be known to your majesty, I was on the dock. To my surprise, the man whom we supposed would be your majesty was, instead, Herr Von Arnim, whose startling resemblance to your majesty has in the past been utilized to draw attention from your majesty, thus insuring you a greater degree of freedom. I don't believe I am incorrect in assuming that your majesty foresaw the possibility of your trip to this country becoming known, and, therefore, Herr Von Arnim and Herr Hauptmann came with instructions to draw attention to themselves. They acted their roles well, your majesty; their affected clumsiness in the alternate use of English and French in speaking to each other in my presence, and Herr Von Arnim's deep concern at the possibility of his assumed identity becoming known were, to put it mildly, quite sufficient to compel one's attention."

"But how—how does it come that you found me, mein Herr? There has been absolutely no communication between us?"

Darraq didn't answer the question.

"As to your majesty's intention of sailing for home to-morrow," he went on, "that was easily established through the steamship offices once we had located your majesty in this house, and had convinced Herr Von Arnim by a note from the chief of our secret service that we actually believed him to be your majesty. To use a colloquialism, we permitted him to think he had drawn the enemy's fire, because we knew it would conduce to your majesty's peace of mind; and it fitted in perfectly with the call on Herr Von Arnim by the German ambassador."

Darraq met the perturbed gaze of the other man for one long, tense minute, but whatever he read in it brought no change of expression in his face.

"I dare say," came the tentative question at last, "that my presence in your country incognito has aroused a good deal of speculation as to my motive?"

Again Darraq bowed low.

"It is not for us to question your majesty's motive in so honoring us," he replied. "It is enough for us to know you are here, and, knowing it, express to you our welcome, and our pleasure at being convinced that your reported illness was incorrect."

Here was dissimulation, plus evasion. Bowing low, Darraq craved permission to go, and it was granted curtly. He went, leaving behind him here in this modest little house in Thirty-second Street, deeply perturbed, a reigning sovereign of Europe. They met again aboard ship on the afternoon of the following day, fifteen minutes—before the great liner cast off her hawsers. Miss Wessels, from the window of her stateroom, watched them curiously.

Darraq bowed with deep courtesy.

"I dare say you have come to express your government's regret at my departure?" the emperor queried ironically.

However disconcerted he had been the night before by the sudden realization that all efforts to keep his identity hidden had failed, his journey had been a success; the tracings were safe, and in an hour America would be a penciled line, fading into the horizon. He was returning home with arms strengthened incalculably against that great island nation of Europe with which, some day, war would come.

"And to wish you bon voyage," Darraq amended. The nearest of the moving crowd compelled him to drop the formal manner of address. "Permit me to express my regret that your visit has been fruitless."

"Fruitless!" The emperor laughed exultantly.

"Yes," replied Darraq steadily. "You will find the tracings of the plans and specifications which you were at such pains to secure, which you came to this country to purchase at the cost of Lieutenant Stuart's honor, have vanished from the receptacle in the body of the heavy cane in your hand and—that is all. Permit me to again wish you bon voyage." He bowed ceremoniously.

"Vanished!" The word came in a burst of amazement.

"'Vanished' is the word I used," remarked Darraq coolly. "A man entered your apartments as you slept last night and removed them. You will find in your cane several thin, tissue sheets, blank as the open sky. I will add that my method of locating you was simplicity itself. What one thing in all the United States could be of such importance that it would bring you to this country? Obviously, some instrument of war. But every improvement in every airship, every man-of-war, every submarine, every gun, every secret of armor making, is shared in common by all civilized countries. But suppose your secret police had learned of some invention held by my government which, in your possession, would make your power upon the seas beyond dispute? That would be the answer to the hypothetical question hanging upon your presence here. Lieutenant Stuart was in charge of plans of an invention which, when announced, will revolutionize warfare. I followed Lieutenant Stuart from Washington to your very door in New York, and, incidentally, became aware of Miss Wessels' part in the affair."

For an instant the emperor, nonplused, stared at him, then without a word he turned away and entered his suite, slamming the door behind him.

Just before the big liner sailed Herr Von Arnim and Herr Hauptmann arrived breathlessly in an automobile and ran up the gangplank. The steamer's great whistle bellowed a warning across the busy bosom of the Hudson, and she moved out majestically.

Six hours later Paul Darraq sent a telegram to Chief Campbell of the secret service in Washington. It ran like this:


The telegram was too late. They found Stuart dead with a bullet in his brain. Gripped in his left hand was a telegram, signed Carline Wessels, coldly, brutally announcing her departure for Paris, where, she explained, she was to join her husband.

It was several months later that Darraq looked up from his reading one day and addressed me.

"Don't you think," he asked, "that suicide is the most merciful manner of escape for a man who has been tricked into treason; who has sold the secrets of his country?"

"It strikes me so," I responded.

"I'm glad you agree with me," he remarked. "I could have sent a telegram once in time to prevent a man's suicide, but it seemed more merciful not to send it-and I didn't."

Whereupon he resumed his reading.

The second exploit of Darraq will be related in the next POPULAR, on sale two weeks hence, September 23rd. It is called "The Death Woman."


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