TEARS FROM THE GAIETY

Friday morning found Mr. Minot ready for whatever diplomacy the day
might demand of him. He had a feeling that the demand would be great.
The unheralded arrival of Miss Gabrielle Rose and her packet of letters
presented no slight complication. Whatever the outcome of any suit she
might start against Harrowby, Minot was sure that the mere announcement
of it would be sufficient to blast Jephson’s hopes for all time. Old
Spencer Meyrick, already inflamed by the episode of the elder brother,
was not likely to take coolly the publication of Harrowby’s
incriminating letters.

After an early breakfast, Minot sent a cable to Jephson telling of Miss
Rose’s arrival and asking for information about her. Next he sought an
interview with the Gaiety lady.

An hour later, in a pink and gold parlor of the Hotel de la Pax, he
stood gazing into the china-blue eyes of Miss Gabrielle Rose. It goes
without saying that Miss Rose was pretty; innocent she seemed, too,
with a baby stare that said as plainly as words: “Please don’t harm me,
will you?” But–ah, well, Lord Harrowby was not the first to learn
that a business woman may lurk back of a baby stare.

“You come from Lord Harrowby?” And the smile that had decorated ten
million postcards throughout the United Kingdom flashed on Mr. Minot.
“Won’t you sit down?”

“Thanks.” Minot fidgeted. He had no idea what to say. Time–it was
time he must fight for, as he was fighting with Trimmer. “Er–Miss
Rose,” he began, “when I started out on this errand I had misgivings.
But now that I have seen you, they are gone. Everything will be all
right, I know. I have come to ask that you show Lord Harrowby some
leniency.”

The china-blue eyes hardened.

“You have come on a hopeless errand, Mr–er–Minot. Why should I show
Harrowby any consideration? Did he show me any–when he broke his word
to me and made me the laughing-stock of the town?”

“But that all happened five years ago–”

“Yes, but it is as vivid as though it were yesterday. I have always
intended to demand some redress from his lordship. But my
art–Mr.–Mr. Minot–you have no idea how exacting art can be. Not
until now have I been in a position to do so.”

“And the fact that not until now has his lordship proposed to marry
some one else–that of course has nothing to do with it?”

“Mr. Minot!” A delightful pout. “If you knew me better you could not
possibly ask that.”

“Miss Rose, you’re a clever woman–”

“Oh, please don’t. I hate clever women, and I’m sure you do, too. I’m
not a bit clever, and I’m proud of it. On the contrary, I’m rather
weak–rather easily got round. But when I think of the position Allan
put me in–even a weak woman can be firm in the circumstances.”

“Have it your own way,” said Minot, bowing. “But you are at least
clever enough to understand the futility of demanding financial redress
from a man who is flat broke. I assure you Lord Harrowby hasn’t a
shilling.”

“I don’t believe it. He can get money somehow. He always could. The
courts can force him to. I shall tell my lawyer to go ahead with the
suit.”

“If you would only delay–a week–”

“Impossible.” Miss Rose spoke with haughty languor. “I begin
rehearsals in New York in a week. No, I shall start suit to-day. You
may tell Lord Harrowby so.”

Poor Jephson! Minot had a mental picture of the little bald man
writing at that very moment a terribly large check for the Dowager
Duchess of Tremayne–paying for the rain that had fallen in torrents.
He must at least hold this woman off until Jephson answered his cable.

“Miss Rose,” he pleaded, “grant us one favor. Do not make public your
suit against Harrowby until I have seen you again–say, at four o’clock
this afternoon.”

Coldly she shook her head.

“But you have already waited five years. Surely you can wait another
five hours–as a very great favor to me.”

“I should like to–since you put it that way–but it’s impossible. I’m
sorry.” The great beauty and business woman leaned closer. “Mr.
Minot, you can hardly realize what Allan’s unkindness cost me–in
bitter tears. I loved him–once. And–I believe he loved me.”

“There can not be any question about that.”

“Ah–flattery–”

“No–spoken from the heart.”

“Really!”

“My dear lady–I should like to be your press agent. I could write the
most gorgeous things about you–and no one could say I lied.”

“You men are so nice,” she gurgled, “when you want to be.” Ah, yes,
Gabrielle Rose had always found them so, and had yet to meet one not
worth her while to capture. She turned the baby stare full on Minot.
Even to a beauty of the theater he was an ingratiating picture. She
rose and strolled to a piano in one corner of the room. Minot followed.

“When Harrowby first met me,” she said, her fingers on the keys, “I was
singing _Just a Little_. My first dear song–ah, Mr. Minot, I was
happy then.”

In another minute she began to sing–softly–a plaintive little
love-song, and in spite of himself Minot felt his heart beat faster.

“How it brings back the old days,” she whispered. “The lights, and the
friendly faces–Harrowby in the stalls. And the little suppers after
the show–”

She leaned forward and sang at Minot as she had sung at Harrowby five
years before:

“You could love me just a little–if you tried–
You could feel your heart go pit-a-pat inside–”

Really, she had a way with her!

“Dear, it’s easy if you try;
Cross your heart and hope to die–
Don’t you love me just a little–now?”

That baby stare in all its pathos, all its appealing helplessness, was
focused full on Minot. He gripped the arms of his chair. Gabrielle
Rose saw. Had she made another captive? So it seemed. She felt very
kindly toward the world.

“Promise.” Minot leaned over. His voice was hoarse. “You’ll meet me
here at four. Quite aside from my errand–quite aside from
everything–I want to see you again.”

“Do you really?” She continued to hum beneath her breath. “Very
well–here at four.”

“And–” he hesitated, fearing to break the spell. “In the meantime–”

“In the meantime,” she said, “I’ll think only of–four o’clock.”

Minot left that pink and gold parlor at sea in several respects. The
theory was that he had played with this famous actress–wound her round
his finger–cajoled a delay. But somehow he didn’t feel exactly as one
who has mastered a delicate situation should. Instead he felt dazed by
the beauty of her.

Still more was he at sea as to what he was going to do at four o’clock.
Of what good was the delay if he could not make use of it? And at the
moment he hadn’t the slightest notion of what he could do to prepare
himself for the afternoon interview. He must wait for Jephson’s
cable–perhaps that would give him an idea.

Minot was walking blankly down the street in the direction of his
morning paper when a poster in a deserted store window caught his eye.
It was an atrocious poster–red letters on a yellow background. It
announced that five hundred dollars reward would be paid by Mr. Henry
Trimmer for information that would disclose the present whereabouts of
the real Lord Harrowby.

As Minot stood reading it, a heavy hand was laid upon his shoulder.
Turning, he looked into the lean and hostile face of Henry Trimmer
himself.

“Good morning,” said Mr. Trimmer.

“Good morning,” replied Minot.

“Glad to number you among my readers,” sneered Trimmer. “What do you
think–reward large enough?”

“Looks about the right size to me,” Minot answered.

“Me, too. Ought to bring results pretty quick. By the way, you were
complaining last night that you never heard of me until you came here.
I’ve been thinking that over, and I’ve decided to make up to you in the
next few days for all those lonely years–”

But the morning had been too much for Minot. Worried, distressed, he
lost for the moment his usual smiling urbanity.

“Oh, go to the devil!” he said, and walked away.

Lunch time came–two o’clock. At half past two, out of London, Jephson
spoke. Said his cable:

“Know nothing of G.R. except that she’s been married frequently. Do
best you can.”

And what help was this, pray? Disgustedly Minot read the cable again.
Four o’clock was coming on apace, and with every tick of the clock his
feeling of helplessness grew. He mentally berated Thacker and Jephson.
They left him alone to grapple with wild problems, offering no help and
asking miracles. Confound them both!

Three o’clock came. What–what was he to say? Lord Harrowby,
interrogated, was merely useless and frantic. He couldn’t raise a
shilling. He couldn’t offer a suggestion. “Dear old chap,” he moaned,
“I depend on you.”

Three-thirty! Well, Thacker and Jephson had asked the impossible, that
was all. Minot felt he had done his best. No man could do more. He
was very sorry for Jephson, but–golden before him opened the
possibility of Miss Cynthia Meyrick free to be wooed.

Yet he must be faithful to the last. At a quarter to four he read
Jephson’s cablegram again. As he read, a plan ridiculous in its
ineffectiveness occurred to him. And since no other came in the
interval before four, he walked into Miss Rose’s presence determined to
try out his weak little bluff.

The Gaiety lady was playing on the piano–a whispering, seductive
little tune. As Minot stepped to her side she glanced up at him with a
coy inviting smile. But she drew back a little at his determined glare.

“Miss Rose,” he said sharply, “I have discovered that you can not sue
Lord Harrowby for breach of contract to marry you.”

“Why–why not?” she stammered.

“Because,” said Minot, with a triumphant smile–though it was a shot in
the dark–“you already had a husband when those letters were written to
you.”

Well, he had done his best. A rather childish effort, but what else
was there to attempt? Poor old Jephson!

“Nonsense,” said the Gaiety lady, and continued to play.

“Nothing of the sort,” Minot replied. “Why, I can produce the man
himself.”

Might as well go the limit while he was about it. That should be his
consolation when Jephson lost. Might as well–but what was this?

Gabrielle Rose had turned livid with anger. Her lips twitched, her
china-blue eyes flashed fire. If only her lawyer had been by her side
then! But he wasn’t. And so she cried hotly:

“He’s told! The little brute’s told!”

Good lord! Minot felt his knees weaken. A shot in the dark–had it
hit the target after all?

“If you refer to your husband,” said Minot, “he has done just that.”

“He’s not my husband,” she snapped.

Oh, what was the use? Providence was with Jephson.

“No, of course not–not since the divorce,” Minot answered. “But he
was when those letters were written.”

The Gaiety lady’s chin began to tremble.

“And he promised me, on his word of honor, that he wouldn’t tell. But
I suppose you found him easy. What honor could one expect in a Persian
carpet dealer?”

A Persian carpet dealer? Into Minot’s mind floated a scrap of
conversation heard at Mrs. Bruce’s table.

“But you must remember,” he ventured, “that he is also a prince.”

“Yes,” said the woman, “that’s what I thought when I married him. He’s
the prince of liars–that’s as far as his royal blood goes.”

A silence, while Miss Gabrielle Rose felt in her sleeve for her
handkerchief.

“I suppose,” Minot suggested, “you will abandon the suit–”

She looked at him. Oh, the pathos of that baby stare!

“You are acting in this matter simply as Harrowby’s friend?” she asked.

“Simply as his friend.”

“And–so far–only you know of my–er–ex-husband?”

“Only I know of him,” smiled Minot. The smile died from his face. For
he saw bright tears on the long lashes of the Gaiety lady. She leaned
close.

“Mr. Minot,” she said, “it is I who need a friend. Not Harrowby. I am
here in a strange country–without funds–alone. Helpless. Mr. Minot.
You could not be so cruel.”

“I–I–I’m sorry,” said Minot uncomfortably.

The lady was an actress, and she acted now, beautifully.

“I–I feel so desolate,” she moaned, dabbing daintily at her eyes.
“You will help me. It can not be I am mistaken in you. I thought–did
I imagine it–this morning when I sang for you–you liked me–just a
little?”

Nervously Minot rose from his chair and stood looking down at her. He
tried to answer, but his voice seemed lost.

“Just a very little?” She, too, rose and placed her butterfly hands on
his shoulders. “You do like me–just a little, don’t you?”

Her pleading eyes gazed into his. It was a touching scene. To be
besought thus tenderly by a famous beauty in the secluded parlor of a
southern hotel! The touch of her hands on his shoulders thrilled him.
The odor of Jockey Club–

It was at this instant that Mr. Minot, looking past the Gaiety lady’s
beautiful golden coiffure, beheld Miss Cynthia Meyrick standing in the
doorway of that parlor, a smile on her face. She disappeared on the
instant, but Gabrielle Rose’s “big scene” was ruined beyond repair.

“My dear lady”–gently Minot slipped from beneath her lovely hands–“I
assure you I do like you–more than a little. But unfortunately my
loyalty to Harrowby–no, I won’t say that–circumstances are such that
I can not be your friend in this instance. Though, if I could serve
you in any other way–”

Gabrielle Rose snapped her fingers.

“Very well.” Her voice had a metallic ring now. “We shall see what we
shall see.”

“Undoubtedly. I bid you good day.”

As Minot, somewhat dazed, walked along the veranda of the De la Pax he
met Miss Meyrick. There was a mischievous gleam in her eye.

“Really, it was so tactless of me, Mr. Minot,” she said. “A thousand
apologies.”

He pretended not to understand.

“My untimely descent on the parlor.” She beamed on him. “I presume it
happened because romance draws me–like a magnet. Even other people’s.”

Minot smiled wanly, and for once sought to end their talk.

“Oh, do sit down just a moment,” she pleaded. “I want to thank you for
the great service you did Harrowby and me–last night.”

“Wha–what service?” asked Minot, sinking into a chair.

She leaned close, and spoke in a whisper.

“Your part in the kidnaping. Harrowby has told me. It was sweet of
you–so unselfish.”

“Damn!” thought Minot. And then he thought two more.

“To put yourself out that our wedding may be a success!” Was this
sarcasm, Minot wondered. “I’m so glad to know about it, Mr. Minot. It
shows me at last–just what you think is”–she looked away–“best for
me.”

“Best for you? What do you mean?”

“Can’t you understand? From some things you’ve said I have
thought–perhaps–you didn’t just approve of my–marriage. And now I
see I misconstrued you–utterly. You want me to marry Harrowby.
You’re working for it. I shouldn’t be surprised if you were on that
train last Monday just to make sure that–I’d–get here–safely.”

Really, it was inhuman. Did she realize how inhuman it was? One
glance at Minot might have told her. But she was still looking away.

“So I want to thank you, Mr. Minot,” she went on. “I shall always
remember your–kindness. I couldn’t understand at first, but now–I
wonder? You know, it’s an old theory that as soon as one has one’s own
affair of the heart arranged, one begins to plan for others?”

Minot made a little whistling sound through his clenched teeth. The
girl stood up.

“Your thoughtfulness has made me very happy,” she laughed. “It shows
that perhaps you care for me–just a little–too.”

She was gone! Minot sat swearing softly to himself, banging the arm of
his chair with his fist. He raged at Thacker, Jephson, the solar
system. Gradually his anger cooled. Underneath the raillery in
Cynthia Meyrick’s tone he had thought he detected something of a
serious note–as though she were a little wistful–a little hurt.

Did she care? Bitter-sweet thought! In the midst of all this farce
and melodrama, had she come to care?–just a little?–

Just a little! Bah!

Minot rose and went out on the avenue.

Prince Navin Bey Imno was accustomed to give lectures twice daily on
the textures of his precious rugs, at his shop in the Alameda
courtyard. His afternoon lecture was just finished as Mr. Minot
stepped into the shop. A dozen awed housewives from the Middle West
were hurrying away to write home on the hotel stationery that they had
met a prince. When the last one had gone out Minot stepped forward.

“Prince–I’ve dropped in to warn you. A very angry woman will be here
shortly to see you.”

The handsome young Persian shrugged his shoulders, and took off the
jacket of the native uniform with which he embellished his talks.

“Why is she angry? All my rugs–they are what I say they are. In this
town are many liars selling oriental rugs. Oriental! Ugh! In New
Jersey they were made. But not my rugs. See! Only in my native
country, where I was a prince of the–”

“Yes, yes. But this lady is not coming about rugs. I refer to your
ex-wife.”

“Ah. You are mistaken. I have never married.”

“Oh, yes, you have. I know all about it. There’s no need to lie. The
whole story is out, and the lady’s game in San Marco is queered. She
thinks you told. That’s why she’ll be here for a chat.”

“But I did not tell. Only this morning did I see her first. I could
not tell–so soon. Who could I tell–so soon?”

“I know you didn’t tell. But can you prove it to an agitated lady?
No. You’d better close up for the evening.”

“Ah, yes–you are right. I am innocent–but what does Gabrielle care
for innocence? We are no longer married–still I should not want to
meet her now. I will close. But first–my friend–my
benefactor–could I interest you in this rug? See! Only in my native
country, where–”

“Prince,” said Minot, “I couldn’t use a rug if you gave me one.”

“That is exactly what I would do. You are my friend. You serve me. I
give you this. Fifty dollars. That is giving it to you. Note the
weave. Only in my–”

“Good night,” interrupted Minot. “And take my advice. Hurry!”

Gloomy, discouraged, he turned back toward his own hotel. It was true,
Gabrielle Rose’s husband at the time of the letters was in San Marco.
The emissary of Jephson was serving a cause that could not lose. That
afternoon he had hoped. Was there anything dishonorable in that?
Jephson and Thacker could command his service, they could not command
his heart. He had hoped–and now–

At a corner a negro gave him a handbill. He read:

WHO HAS KIDNAPED
THE REAL
LORD HARROWBY?
AT THE OPERA-HOUSE TO-NIGHT!!
Mr. Henry Trimmer Will Appear in
Place of His Unfortunate Friend, Lord
Harrowby, and Will Make a Few
WARM AND SIZZLING
REMARKS.
NO ADVANCE IN PRICES.

Mr. Minot tossed the bill into the street. Into his eyes came the
ghostlike semblance of a smile. After all, the famous Harrowby wedding
had not yet taken place.

After dinner Minot lighted a cigar and descended into the hotel gardens
for a stroll. Farther and farther he strayed down the shadowy gravel
paths, until only the faint far suggestion of music at his back
recalled the hotel’s lights and gaiety. It was a deserted land he
penetrated; just one figure did he encounter in a fifteen minutes’
walk–a little man clad all in white scurrying like a wraith in the
black shade of the royal palms.

At a distant corner of the grounds near the tennis-courts was a
summer-house in which tea was served of an afternoon. Into this Minot
strolled, to finish his cigar and ponder the day’s developments in the
drama he was playing. As he drew a comfortable chair from moonlight
into shadow he heard a little gasp at his elbow, and turning, beheld a
beautiful vision.

Gabrielle Rose was made for the spotlight, and that being absent,
moonlight served as well. Under its soft merciful rays she stood
revealed–the beauty thousands of playgoers knew and worshiped. Dick
Minot gazed at her in awe. He was surprised that she held out her hand
to him, a smile of the utmost friendliness on her face.

“How fortunate,” she said, as though speaking the cue for a lovely
song. “I stand here, the wonder of this old Spanish night getting into
my very blood–and the only thing lacking in the picture is–a man.
And then, you come.”

“I’m glad to be of service,” said Minot, tossing away his cigar.

“What an unromantic way to put it! Really, this chance meeting–it was
a chance meeting, I suppose?–”

“A lucky chance,” he agreed.

She pouted.

“Then you did not follow? Unromantic to the last! But as I was
saying, this chance meeting is splendid. My train goes in an hour–and
I wanted so very much to see you–once again.”

“You flatter me.”

“Ah–you don’t understand.” She dropped into a chair. “I wanted to
see you–to put your conscience at rest. You were so sorry when you
had to be–cruel–to me to-day. You will be so glad to know that it
has all turned out happily, after all.”

“What do you mean?” asked Minot, new apprehensions rising in his mind.

“Alas, if I could only tell you.” She was laughing at him now–an
experience he did not relish. “But–my lips are sealed, as we say on
the stage. I can only give you the hint. You thought you left me a
broken vanquished woman. How the thought did pain you! Well, your
victory was not absolute. Let that thought console you.”

“You are too kind,” Minot answered.

“And–you are glad I am not leaving San Marco quite beaten?”

“Oh, yes–I’m wild with pleasure.”

“Really–that is sweet of you. I am so sorry we must part. The
moonlight, the palms, the distant music–all so romantic. But–we
shall meet again?”

“I don’t know.”

“Don’t know? How unkind–when it all depends on you. You will look me
up in New York, won’t you? New York is not so romantic–but I shall
try to make it up to you. I shall sing for you. _Just a Little_.”

She stood up, and held out a slim white hand.

“Good-by, Mr. Minot.” Still she laughed. “It has been so good to know
you.”

“Er–good-by,” said Minot. He took the hand. He heard her humming
beneath her breath–humming _Just a Little_. “I’ve enjoyed your
singing immensely.”

She laughed outright now–a silvery joyous laugh. And, refusing the
baffled Minot’s offer to take her back to the hotel, she fled away from
him down the dark path.

He fell back into his chair, and lighted another cigar. Exit the
Gaiety lady, laughing merrily. What was the meaning of that? What new
complication must he meet and solve?

For his answer, he had only to return to the hotel. On the steps he
was met by Lord Harrowby’s man, agitated, puffing.

“Been looking all about for you, sir,” he announced. “‘Is lordship
wishes to see you at once–most h’important.”

“More trouble, Minot,” was Lord Harrowby’s gloomy greeting. “Sit down,
old chap. Just had a very nasty visitor.”

“Sorry to hear it.”

“Little brown monkey of a man–Manuel Gonzale, proprietor of the _San
Marco Mail_. I say, old boy, there’s a syllable missing in the name of
that paper. Do you get me?”

“You mean it should be the _San Marco Blackmail_? Pretty good,
Harrowby, pretty good.” And Minot added to himself “for you.”

“That’s exactly what I do mean. Gabrielle has sold out her bunch of
letters to Mr. Gonzale. And it appears from the chap’s sly hints that
unless I pay him ten thousand dollars before midnight, the best of
those letters will be in to-morrow’s _Mail_.”

“He’s got his nerve–working a game like that,” said Minot.

“Nerve–not at all,” replied Harrowby. “He’s as safe as a child in its
own nursery. He knows as well as anybody that the last thing I’d do
would be to appeal to the police. Too much publicity down that road.
Well?”

“His price is a bit cheaper than Gabrielle’s.”

“Yes, but not cheap enough. I’m broke, old boy. The governor and I
are on very poor terms. Shouldn’t think of appealing to him.”

“We might pawn Chain Lightning’s Collar,” Minot suggested.

“Never! There must be some way–only three days before the wedding.
We mustn’t lose on the stretch, old boy.”

A pause. Minot sat glumly.

“Have you no suggestion?” Harrowby asked anxiously.

“I have not,” said Minot, rising. “But I perceive clearly that it now
devolves on little Dicky Minot to up and don his fighting armor once
more.”

“Really, old boy, I’m sorry,” said Harrowby. “I’m hoping things may
quiet down a bit after a time.”

“So am I,” replied Minot with feeling. “If they don’t I can see
nervous prostration and a hospital cot ahead for me. You stay here and
study the marriage service–I’m going out on the broad highway again.”

He went down into the lobby and tore Jack Paddock away from the side of
one of the Omaha beauties. Mr. Paddock was resplendent in evening
clothes, and thoughtful, for on the morrow Mrs. Bruce was to give an
important luncheon.

“Jack,” Minot said, “I’m going to confide in you. I’m going to tell
you why I am in San Marco.”

“Unbare your secrets,” Paddock answered.

Crossing the quiet plaza Minot explained to his friend the matter of
the insurance policy written by the romantic Jephson in New York. He
told of how he had come south with the promise to his employer that
Miss Cynthia Meyrick would change her mind only over his dead body.
Incredulous exclamations broke from the flippant Paddock as he listened.

“Knowing your love of humor,” Minot said, “I hasten to add the crowning
touch. The moment I saw Cynthia Meyrick I realized that if I couldn’t
marry her myself life would be an uninteresting blank forever after.
Every time I’ve seen her since I’ve been surer of it. What’s the
answer, Jack?”

Paddock whistled.

“Delicious,” he cried. “Pardon me–I’m speaking as a rank outsider.
She is a charming girl. And you adore her! Bless my soul, how the
plot does thicken! Why don’t you resign, you idiot?”

“My first idea. Tried it, and it wouldn’t work. Besides, if I did
resign, I couldn’t stick around and queer Jephson’s chances–even
supposing she’d listen to my pleading, which she wouldn’t.”

“Children, see the very Christian martyr! If it was me I’d chuck the
job and elope with–oh, no, you couldn’t do that, of course. It would
be a low trick. You are in a hole, aren’t you?”

“Five million fathoms deep. There’s nothing to do but see the wedding
through. And you’re going to help me. Just now, Mr. Manuel Gonzale
has a packet of love-letters written by Harrowby in his salad days,
which he proposes to print on the morrow unless he is paid not to
to-night. You and I are on our way to take ’em away from him.”

“Um–but if I help you in this I’ll be doing you a mean trick. Can’t
quite make out, old boy, whether to stand by you in a business or a
personal way.”

“You’re going to stand by me in a business way. I want you along
to-night to lend your moral support while I throttle that little
blackmailer.”.

“Ay, ay, sir. I’ve been hearing some things about Gonzale myself. Go
to it!”

They groped about in a dark hallway hunting the _Mail_ office.

“Shady are the ways of journalism,” commented Paddock. “By the way,
I’ve just thought of one for Mrs. Bruce to spring to-morrow. In case
we fail and the affinity letters are published, she might say that
Harrowby’s epistles got into the _Mail_ once too often. It’s only a
rough idea–ah–I see you don’t like it. Well, here’s success to our
expedition.”

They opened the door of the _Mail_ office. Mr. O’Neill sat behind a
desk, the encyclopedia before him, seeking lively material for the
morrow’s issue. Mr. Howe hammered at a typewriter. Both of the
newspaper men looked up at the intrusion.

“Ah, gentlemen,” said O’Neill, coming forward. “What can I do for you?”

“Who are you?” Minot asked.

“What? Can it be? Is my name not a household word in San Marco? I am
managing editor of the _Mail_.” His eyes lighted on Mr. Paddock’s
giddy attire. “We can’t possibly let you give a ball here to-night, if
that’s what you want.”

“Very humorous,” said Minot. “But our wants are far different. I
won’t beat around the bush. You have some letters here written by a
friend of mine to a lady he adored–at the moment. You are going to
print them in to-morrow’s _Mail_ unless my friend is easy enough to pay
you ten thousand dollars. He isn’t going to pay you anything. We’ve
come for those letters–and we’ll get them or run you and your boss out
of town in twenty-four hours–you raw little blackmailers!”

“Blackmailers!” Mr. O’Neill’s eyes seemed to catch fire from his hair.
His face paled. “I’ve been in the newspaper business seventeen years,
and nobody ever called me a blackmailer and got away with it. I’m in a
generous mood. I’ll give you one chance to take that back–”

“Nonsense. It happens to be true–” put in Paddock.

“I’m talking to your friend here.” O’Neill’s breath came fast. “I’ll
attend to you, you lily of the field, in a minute. You–you liar–are
you going to take that back?”

“No,” cried Minot.

He saw a wild Irishman coming for him, breathing fire. He squared
himself to meet the attack! But the man at the typewriter leaped up
and seized O’Neill from behind.

“Steady, Bob,” he shouted. “How do you know this fellow isn’t right?”

Unaccountably the warlike one collapsed into a chair.

“Damn it, I know he’s right,” he groaned. “That’s what makes me rave.
Why didn’t you let me punch him? It would have been some satisfaction.
Of course he’s right. I had a hunch this was a blackmailing sheet from
the moment my hot fingers closed on Gonzale’s money. But so long as
nobody told us, we were all right.”

He glared angrily at Minot.

“You–you killjoy,” he cried. “You skeleton at the feast. You’ve put
us in a lovely fix.”

“Well, I’m sorry,” said Minot, “but I don’t understand these heroics.”

“It’s all up now, Harry,” moaned O’Neill. “The free trial is over and
we’ve got to send the mattress back to the factory. Here in this
hollow lotus land, ever to live and lie reclined–I was putting welcome
on the mat for a fate like that. Back to the road for us. That human
fish over in the _Chronicle_ office was a prophet–‘You look
unlucky–maybe they’ll give you jobs on the _Mail_.’ Remember.”

“Cool off, Bob,” Howe said. He turned to Minot and Paddock. “Of
course you don’t understand. You see, we’re strangers here. Drifted
in last night broke and hungry, looking for jobs. We got them–under
rather unusual circumstances. Things looked suspicious–the proprietor
parted with money without screaming for help, and no regular newspaper
is run like that. But–when you’re down and out, you know–”

“I understand,” said Minot, smiling. “And I’m sorry I called you what
I did. I apologize. And I hate to be a–er–a killjoy. But as a
matter of fact, your employer is a blackmailer, and it’s best you
should know it.”

“Yes,” put in Paddock. “Do you gentlemen happen to have heard where
the editor of Mr. Gonzale’s late newspaper, published in Havana, is
now?”

“We do not,” said O’Neill, “but maybe you’ll tell us.”

“I will. He’s in prison, doing ten years for blackmail. I understand
that Mr. Gonzale prefers to involve his editors, rather than himself.”

O’Neill came over and held out his hand to Minot.

“Shake, son,” he said. “Thank God I didn’t waste my strength on you.
Gonzale will be in here in a minute–”

“About those letters?” Howe inquired.

“Yes,” said Minot. “They were written to a Gaiety actress by a man who
is in San Marco for his wedding next Tuesday–Lord Harrowby.”

“His ludship again,” O’Neill remarked. “Say, I always thought the
South was democratic.”

“Well,” said Howe, “we owe you fellows something for putting us wise.
We’ve stood for a good deal, but never for blackmailing. As a matter
of fact, Gonzale hasn’t brought the letters in yet, but he’s due at any
minute. When he comes–take the letters away from him. I shan’t
interfere. How about you, Bob?”

“I’ll interfere,” said O’Neill, “and I’ll interfere strong–if I think
you fellows ain’t leaving enough of little Manuel for me to caress–”

The door opened, and the immaculate proprietor of the _Mail_ came
noiselessly into the room. His eyes narrowed when they fell on the
strangers there.

“Are you Manuel Gonzale?” Minot demanded.

“I–I am.” The sly little eyes darted everywhere.

“Proprietor of the _Mail_?”

“Yes.”

“The gentleman who visited Lord Harrowby an hour back?”

“Man! Man! You’re wasting time,” O’Neill cried.

“Excuse me,” smiled Minot. “Unintentional, I assure you.” He seized
the little Spaniard suddenly by the collar. “We’re here for Lord
Harrowby’s letters,” he said. His other hand began a rapid search of
Manuel Gonzale’s pockets.

“Let me go, you thief,” screamed the proprietor of the _Mail_. He
squirmed and fought. “Let me go!” He writhed about to face his
editors. “You fools! What are you doing, standing there? Help
me–help–”

“We’re waiting,” said O’Neill. “Waiting for our turn. Remember your
promise, son. Enough of him left for me.”

Minot and his captive slid back and forth across the floor. The three
others watched, O’Neill in high glee.

“Go to it!” he cried. “That’s Madame On Dit you’re waltzing with. I
speak for the next dance, Madame.”

Mr. Minot’s eager hand came away from the Spaniard’s inner waistcoat
pocket, and in it was a packet of perfumed letters, tied with a cute
blue ribbon. He released his victim.

“Sorry to be so impolite,” he said. “But I had to have these to-night.”

Gonzale turned on him with an evil glare.

“Thief!” he cried. “I’ll have the law on you for this.”

“I doubt that,” smiled Minot. “Jack, I guess that about concludes our
business with the _Mail_.” He turned to Howe and O’Neill. “You boys
look me up at the De la Pax. I want to wish you bon voyage when you
start north. For the present–good-by.”

And he and Paddock departed.

“You’re a fine pair,” snarled Gonzale, when the door had closed. “A
fine pair to take my salary money, and then stand by and see me
strangled.”

“You’re not strangled yet,” said O’Neill. He came slowly toward his
employer, like a cat stalking a bird. “Did you get my emphasis on the
word yet?”

Gonzale paled beneath his lemon skin, and got behind a desk.

“Now, boys,” he pleaded, “I didn’t mean anything. I’ll be frank with
you–I have been a little indiscreet here. But that’s all over now.
It would be dangerous to try any more–er–deals at present. And I
want you to stay on here until I can get new men in your places.”

“Save your breath,” said O’Neill through his teeth.

“Your work has been excellent–excellent,” went on Gonzale hastily. “I
feel I am not paying you enough. Stay on with me until your week is
up. I will give you a hundred each when you go–and I give you my word
I’ll attempt nothing dangerous while you are here.”

He retreated farther from O’Neill.

“Wait a minute, Bob,” said Howe. “No blackmailing stunts while we
stay?”

“Well–I shouldn’t call them that–”

“No blackmailing stunts?”

“No–I promise.”

“Harry,” wailed the militant O’Neill. “What’s the matter with you? We
ought to thrash him–now–and–”

“Go back on the road?” Howe inquired. “A hundred dollars each, Bob.
It means New York in a parlor car.”

“Then you will stay?” cried Gonzale.

“Yes,–we’ll stay,” said Howe firmly.

“See here–” pleaded O’Neill. “Oh, what’s the use? This dolce far
niente has got us.”

“We stay only on the terms you name,” stipulated Howe.

“It is agreed,” said Gonzale, smiling wanly. “The loss of those
letters cost me a thousand dollars–and you stood by. However, let us
forgive and forget. Here–Madame On Dit’s copy for to-morrow.”
Timidly he held out a roll of paper toward O’Neill.

“All right.” O’Neill snatched it. “But I’m going to edit it from now
on. For instance, there’s a comma I don’t like. And I’m going to keep
an eye on you, my hearty.”

“As you wish,” said Gonzale humbly. “I–I am going out for a moment.”
The door closed noiselessly behind him.

Howe and O’Neill stood looking at each other.

“Well–you had your way,” said O’Neill, shamefacedly. “I don’t seem to
be the man I was. It must be the sunshine and the posies. And the
thought of the road again.”

“A hundred each,” said Howe grimly. “We had to have it, Bob. It means
New York.”

“Yes.” O’Neill pondered. “But–that good-looking young fellow,
Harry–the one who apologized to us for calling us blackmailers–”

“Yes?”

“I’d hate to meet him on the street to-morrow. Five days. A lot could
happen in five days–”

“What are your orders, Chief?” asked Howe.

At that moment Minot, followed by Paddock was rushing triumphantly into
the Harrowby suite. He threw down on the table a package of letters.

“There they are!” he cried. “I–”

He stopped.

“Thanks,” said Lord Harrowby wildly. “Thanks a thousand times. My
dear Minot–we need you. My man has been to the theater–Trimmer is
organizing a mob to board the _Lileth_!”

“Board the _Lileth_?”

“Yes–to search for that creature who calls himself Lord Harrowby.”

“Come on, Jack,” Minot said to Paddock. They ran down several flights
of stairs, through the lobby, and out into the street.

“Where to?” panted Paddock.

“The harbor!” Minot cried.

As they passed the opera-house they saw a crowd forming and heard the
buzz of many voices.

Mr. Paddock knew of a man on the water-front who had a gasoline launch
to rent, and fortunately it happened to be in commission. The two
young men leaped into it, Paddock started the engine, and they zipped
with reassuring speed over the dark waters toward the lights of the
_Lileth_.

The accommodation ladder of the yacht was down, and leaving a member of
the crew to make fast the launch, Minot and Paddock climbed hurriedly
to the deck. Mr. Martin Wall was at the moment in the main cabin
engaged in a game of German whist, and his opponent was no less a
person than George Harrowby of the peerage. Upon this quiet game the
two young men rushed in.

“Unexpected visitors,” said Wall. “Why–what’s the matter, boys?”

“Come out on deck a minute,” said Minot rapidly. Wall threw down his
cards and followed. Once outside, Minot went on: “No time to waste
words. Trimmer is collecting a mob in front of the opera-house, and
they are coming out here to search this boat. You know who they’re
looking for.”

With exaggerated calmness Wall took out a cigar and lighted it.

“Indeed?” he remarked. “I told you it might be advisable to look up
the penalty for kidnaping. But you knew best. Ah, the impetuosity of
youth!”

“Well–this is no time to discuss that,” replied Minot. “We’ve got to
act, and act quickly!”

“Yes?” Mr. Wall drawled. “What would you suggest? Shall we drown him?
I’ve come to like George mighty well, but if you say the word–”

“My plan is this,” said Minot, annoyed by Wall’s pleasantries. “Turn
George over to us. We’ll bundle him into our launch and run off out of
sight behind Tarragona Island. Then, let Trimmer search to his heart’s
content. When he gets tired and quits, signal us by hanging a red
lantern in the bow.”

Martin Wall smiled broadly.

“Not bad for an amateur kidnaper,” he said. “Will I turn George over
to you? Will a duck swim? A good idea.”

“For God’s sake, hurry!” cried Minot. “Look!”

He pointed to the largest of San Marco’s piers. The moon was lost
under clouds now, but the electric lights on the water-front revealed a
swarming shouting crowd of people. Martin Wall stepped to the door of
the main cabin.

“Lord Harrowby!” he cried. He turned to Minot and Paddock. “I call
him that to cheer him in captivity,” he explained. The tall weary
Englishman strode out upon the deck.

“Lord Harrowby,” said Wall, “these two gentlemen have come to take you
for a boat ride. Will you be kind enough to step into that launch?”

Poor old George pulled himself together.

“If you’ll pardon my language, I’ll be damned if I do,” he said. “I
take it Mr. Trimmer is on his way here. Well, gentlemen, the first to
grasp his hand when he boards the boat will be the chap who now
addresses you.”

They stood gazing doubtfully at George in revolt. Then Minot turned,
and saw a rowboat putting off from the pier.

“Come on,” he cried, and leaped on the shoulders of the aspirant to the
title. Paddock and Wall followed. Despite his discouraged appearance,
George put up a lively fight. For a time the four men struggled back
and forth across the deck, now in moonlight, now in shadow. Once
George slipped and fell, his three captors on top of him, and at that
moment Mr. Minot felt a terrific tugging at his coat. But the odds
were three to one against George Harrowby, and finally he was dragged
and pushed into the launch. Again Paddock started the engine, and that
odd boat load drew away from the _Lileth_.

They had gone about ten feet when poor old George slipped out from
under Minot and leaped to his feet.

“Hi–Trimmer–it’s me–it’s George–” he thundered in a startlingly
loud tone. Minot put his hand over George’s lips, and they locked in
conflict. The small launch danced wildly on the waters. And
fortunately for Minot’s plans the moon still hid behind the clouds.

With a stretch of Tarragona’s rank vegetation between them and the
_Lileth_, Mr. Paddock stopped the engine and they stood still on the
dark waters. Paddock lighted a cigarette, utilizing the same match to
consult his watch.

“Ten o’clock,” he said. “Can’t say this is the jolliest little party I
was ever on.”

“Never mind,” replied Minot cheerfully. “It won’t take Trimmer fifteen
minutes to find that his proposition isn’t on board. In twenty minutes
we’ll slip back and look for the signal.”

The “proposition” in question sat up and straightened his collar.

“The pater and I split,” he said, “over the matter of my going to
Oxford. The old boy knew best. I wish now I’d gone. Then I might
have words to tell you chaps what I think of this damnable outrage.”

Minot and Paddock sat in silence.

“I’ve been in America twenty odd years,” the proposition went on.
“Seen all sorts of injustice and wrong–but I’ve lived to experience
the climax myself.”

Still silence from his captors, while the black waters swished about
the launch.

“I take it you chaps believe me to be an impostor, just as Allan does.
Well, I’m not. And I’m going to give you my little talk on the old
days at Rakedale Hall. When I’ve finished–”

“No, you’re not,” said Minot. “I’ve heard all that once.”

“And you weren’t convinced? Why, everybody in San Marco is convinced.
The mayor, the chief of police, the–”

“My dear George,” said Minot with feeling. “It doesn’t make the
slightest difference who you are. You and Trimmer stay separated until
after next Tuesday.”

“Yes. And rank injustice it is, too. We’ll have the law on you for
this. We’ll send you all to prison.”

“Pleasant thought,” commented Paddock. “Mrs. Bruce would have to
develop lockjaw at the height of the social season. Oh, the devil–I’d
better be thinking about that luncheon.”

All thought. All sat there silent. The black waters became a little
rougher. On their surface small flecks of white began to appear.
Minot looked up at the dark sky.

“Twenty-two after,” said Paddock finally, and turned toward the engine.
“Heaven grant that red light is on view. This is getting on my nerves.”

Slyly the little launch poked its nose around the corner of the island
and peeped at the majestic _Lileth_. Paddock snorted.

“Not a trace of it.”

“I must have underestimated the time,” said Minot. “Wha–what’s that?”

“That? That’s only thunder. Oh, this is going to be a pretty party!”

Suddenly the heavens blazed with lightning. The swell of the waters
increased. Hastily Paddock backed the boat from the range of the
_Lileth’s_ vision.

“Trimmer must go soon,” cried Minot.

Fifteen minutes passed in eloquent silence. The lightning and the
thunder continued.

“Try it again,” Minot suggested. Again they peeped. And still no red
light on the _Lileth_.

And even as they looked, out of the black heavens swept a sheet of
stinging rain. It lashed down on that frail tossing boat with cruel
force; it obscured the _Lileth_, the island, everything but the fact of
its own damp existence. In two seconds the men unprotected in that
tiny launch were pitiful dripping figures, and the glory of Mr.
Paddock’s evening clothes departed never to return.

“A fortune-teller in Albuquerque,” said poor old George, “told me I was
to die of pneumonia. It’ll be murder, gentlemen–plain murder.”

“It’s suicide, too, isn’t it?” snarled Paddock. “That ought to satisfy
you.”

“I’m sorry,” said Minot through chattering teeth.

No answer. The downfall continued.

“The rain is raining everywhere,” quoted Paddock gloomily. “It falls
on the umbrellas here, and on the ships at sea. Damn the ships at sea.”

“Here, here,” said poor old George.

A damp doleful pause.

“Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for a
friend,” continued Paddock presently.

“A thousand apologies,” Minot said. “But I’m running the same chances,
Jack.”

“Yes–but it’s your party–your happy little party,” replied Paddock.
“Not mine.”

Minot did not answer. He was as miserable as the others, and he could
scarcely blame his friend for losing temporarily his good nature.

“It’s after eleven,” said Paddock, after another long pause.

“Put in closer to the _Lileth_,” suggested Minot.

Mr. Paddock fumbled about beneath the canvas cover of the engine, and
they put in. But still no red light aboard the yacht.

“I’d give a thousand dollars,” said Paddock, “to know what’s going on
aboard that boat.”

The knowledge would hardly have been worth the price he offered.
Aboard the _Lileth_, on the forward deck under a protecting awning, Mr.
Trimmer sat firmly planted in a chair. Beside him, in other chairs,
sat three prominent citizens of San Marco–one of them the chief of
police. Mr. Martin Wall was madly walking the deck near by.

“Going to stay here all night?” he demanded at last.

“All night, and all day to-morrow,” replied Mr. Trimmer, “if necessary.
We’re going to stay here until that boat that’s carrying Lord Harrowby
comes back. You can’t fool Henry Trimmer.”

“There isn’t any such boat!” flared Martin Wall.

“Tell it to the marines,” remarked Trimmer, lighting a fresh cigar.

Just as well that the three shivering figures huddled in the launch on
the heaving bosom of the waters could not see this picture. Mr. Wall
looked out at the rain, and shivered himself.

Eleven-thirty came. And twelve. Two matches from Mr. Paddock’s store
went to the discovery of these sad facts. Soaked to the skin, glum,
silent, the three on the waters sat staring at the unresponsive
_Lileth_. The rain was falling now in a fine drizzle.

“I suppose,” Paddock remarked, “we stay here until morning?”

“We might try landing on Tarragona,” said Minot.

“We might try jumping into the ocean, too,” responded Paddock, through
chattering teeth.

“Murder,” droned poor old George. “That’s what it’ll be.”

At one o’clock the three wet watchers beheld unusual things. Smoke
began to belch from the _Lileth’s_ funnels. Her siren sounded.

“She’s steaming out!” cried Minot. “She’s steaming out to sea!”

And sure enough, the graceful yacht began to move–out past Tarragona
Island–out toward the open sea.

Once more Paddock started his faithful engine, and, hallooing madly,
the three set out in pursuit. Not yet had the _Lileth_ struck its
gait, and in fifteen minutes they were alongside. Martin Wall,
beholding them from the deck, had a rather unexpected attack of pity,
and stopped his engines. The three limp watchers were taken aboard.

“Wha–what does this mean?” chattered Minot.

“You poor devils,” said Martin Wall. “Come and have a drink. Mean?”
He poured. “It means that the only way I could get rid of our friend
Trimmer was to set out for New York.”

“For New York?” cried Minot, standing glass in hand.

“Yes. Came on board, Trimmer did, searched the boat, and then declared
I’d shipped George away until his visit should be over. So he and his
friends–one of them the chief of police, by the way–sat down to wait
for your return. Gad–I thought of you out in that rain. Sat and sat
and sat. What could I do?”

“To Trimmer, the brute,” said Paddock, raising his glass.

“Finally I had an idea. I had the boys pull up anchor and start the
engines. Trimmer wanted to know the answer. ‘Leaving for New York
to-night,’ I said. ‘Want to come along?’ He wasn’t sure whether he
would go or not, but his friends were sure they wouldn’t. Put up an
awful howl, and just before we got under way Mr. Trimmer and party
crawled into their rowboat and splashed back to San Marco.”

“Well–what now?” asked Minot.

“I’ve made up my mind,” said Wall. “Been intending to go back north
for some time, and now that I’ve started, I guess I’ll keep on going.”

“Splendid,” cried Minot. “And you’ll take Mr. George Harrowby with
you?”

Mr. Wall seemed in excellent spirits. He slapped Minot on the back.

“If you say so, of course. Don’t know exactly what they can do to
us–but I think George needs the sea air. How about it, your lordship?”

Poor old George, drooping as he had never drooped before, looked
wearily into Wall’s eyes.

“What’s the use?” he said. “Fight’s all gone out of me. Losing
interest in what’s next. Three hours on that blooming ocean with the
rain soaking in–I’m going to bed. I don’t care what becomes of me.”

And he sloshed away to his cabin.

“Well, boys, I’m afraid we’ll have to put you off,” said Martin Wall.
“Glad to have met both of you. Sometime in New York we may run into
each other again.”

He shook hands genially, and the two young men dropped once more into
that unhappy launch. As they sped toward the shore the _Lileth_,
behind them, was heading for the open sea.

“Sorry if I’ve seemed to have a grouch to-night,” said Paddock, as they
walked up the deserted avenue toward the hotel. “But these Florida
rain-storms aren’t the pleasantest things to wear next to one’s skin.
I apologize, Dick.”

“Nonsense,” Minot answered. “Old Job himself would have frowned a bit
if he’d been through what you have to-night. It was my fault for
getting you into it–”

“Forget it,” Paddock said. “Well, it looks like a wedding, old man.
The letters home again, and George Harrowby headed for New York–a
three days’ trip. Nothing to hinder now. Have you thought of that?”

“I don’t want to think,” said Minot gloomily. “Good night, old man.”

Paddock sped up the stairs to his room, which was on the second floor,
and Minot turned toward the elevator. At that moment he saw
approaching him through the deserted lobby Mr. Jim O’Malley, the house
detective of the De la Pax.

“Can we see you a minute in the office, Mr. Minot?” he asked.

“Certainly,” Minot answered. “But–I’m soaked through–was out in all
that rain–”

“Too bad,” said O’Malley, with a sympathetic glance. “We won’t keep
you but a minute–”

He led the way, and wondering, Minot followed. In the tiny office of
the hotel manager a bullet-headed man stood waiting.

“My friend, Mr. Huntley, of the Secret Service,” O’Malley explained.
“Awful sorry that this should happen. Mr. Minot but–we got to search
you.”

“Search me–for what?” Minot cried.

And in a flash, he knew. Through that wild night he had not once
thought of it. But it was still in his inside coat pocket, of course.
Chain Lightning’s Collar!

“What does this mean?” he asked.

“That’s what they all say,” grunted Huntley. “Come here, my boy. Say,
you’re pretty wet. And shivering! Better have a warm bath and a
drink. Turn around, please. Ah–”

With practised fingers the detective explored rapidly Mr. Minot’s
person and pockets. The victim of the search stood limp, helpless.
What could he do? There was no escape. It was all up now–for
whatever reason they desired Chain Lightning’s Collar, they could not
fail to have it in another minute.

Side pockets–trousers pockets–now! The inner coat pocket! Its
contents were in the detective’s hand. Minot stared down. A little
gasp escaped him.

The envelope that held Chain Lightning’s Collar was not among them!

Two minutes longer Huntley pursued, then with an oath of disappointment
he turned to O’Malley.

“Hasn’t got it!” he announced.

Minot swept aside the profuse apologies of the hotel detective, and
somehow got out of the room. In a daze, he sought 389. He didn’t have
it! Didn’t have Chain Lightning’s Collar! Who did?

It was while he sat steaming in a hot bath that an idea came to him.
The struggle on the deck of the _Lileth_, with Martin Wall panting at
his side! The tug on his coat as they all went down together. The
genial spirits of Wall thereafter. The sudden start for New York.

No question about it–Chain Lightning’s Collar was well out at sea now.

And yet–why had Wall stopped to take the occupants of the launch
aboard?

After his bath, Minot donned pajamas and a dressing-gown and ventured
out to find Lord Harrowby’s suite. With difficulty he succeeded in
arousing the sleeping peer. Harrowby let him in, and then sat down on
his bed and stared at him.

“What is it?” he inquired sleepily.

Briefly Minot told him of the circumstances preceding the start of the
_Lileth_ for New York, of his return to the hotel, and the search party
he encountered there. Harrowby was very wide awake by this time.

“That finishes us,” he groaned.

“Wait a minute,” Minot said. “They didn’t find the necklace. I didn’t
have it. I’d lost it.”

“Lost it?”

“Yes. And if you want my opinion, I think Martin Wall stole it from me
on the _Lileth_ and is now on his way–”

Harrowby leaped from bed, and seized Minot gleefully by the hand.

“Dear old chap. What the deuce do I care who took it. It’s gone.
Thank God–it’s gone.”

“But–I don’t understand–”

“No. But you can understand this much. Everything’s all right.
Nothing in the way of the wedding now. It’s splendid! Splendid!”

“But–the necklace was stolen–”

“Yes. Good! Very good! My dear Minot, the luckiest thing that can
happen to us will be–never, never to see Chain Lightning’s Collar
again!”

As completely at sea as he had been that night–which was more or less
at sea–Minot returned to his room. It was after three o’clock. He
turned out his lights and sought his bed. Many wild conjectures kept
him awake at first, but this had been the busiest day of his life.
Soon he slept, and dreamed thrilling dreams.

The sun was bright outside his windows when he was aroused by a knock.

“What is it?” he cried.

“A package for you, sir,” said a bell-boy voice.

He slipped one arm outside his door to receive it–a neat little
bundle, securely tied, with his name written on the wrappings.
Sleepily he undid the cord, and took out–an envelope.

He was no longer sleepy. He held the envelope open over his bed.
Chain Lightning’s Collar tumbled, gleaming, upon the white sheet!

Also in the package was a note, which Minot read breathlessly.

“DEAR MR. MINOT:

“I have decided not to go north after all, and am back in the harbor
with the _Lileth_. As I expect Trimmer at any moment I have sent
George over to Tarragona Island in charge of two sailormen for the day.

“Cordially,
“MARTIN WALL.

“P.S. You dropped the enclosed in the scuffle on the boat last night.”