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Title: No. 13 Toroni - A Mystery
Author: Regis, Julius
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "No. 13 Toroni - A Mystery" ***

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                           _*No. 13 Toroni*_

                             _*A Mystery*_


                           _By JULIUS REGIS_



                                NEW YORK
                         HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY
                                  1922



                            COPYRIGHT, 1922,
                                   BY
                         HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY

                     First printing, October, 1922



                          PRINTED IN U. S. A.



                               *CONTENTS*

                                PART I.

                    THE MYSTERY OF ELAINE ROBERTSON

CHAPTER

      I. STEPS THAT GROW SILENT
     II. "DO NOT LET HER ESCAPE"
    III. THE GIRL IN GREY
     IV. "HE FRIGHTENED ME"
      V. THE OTHER DREYEL
     VI. THE TRACK OF THE "INVISIBLE" ONE
    VII. DOCTOR AUGUSTUS N. CORMAN INTRODUCES HIMSELF
   VIII. ONWARD TO THE UNKNOWN


                                PART II.

                            THE WOODEN DOLLS

     IX. ELAINE ROBERTSON’S STORY
      X. RICARDO FERAIL
     XI. A "WELCOME" GIFT AT SEATTLE
    XII. WILLIAM ROBERTSON
   XIII. FERAIL MAKES A PROPOSAL
    XIV. ELAINE’S SECOND DISAPPEARANCE
     XV. HOTEL "GOLDEN SNAKE"
    XVI. THE "ARIADNE"


                               PART III.

                            HURRICANE ISLAND

   XVII. TORONI RE-ASSUMES HIS RIGHT NAME
  XVIII. THE STORY OF "KING SOLOMON"
    XIX. WHERE THOMAS FALLS INTO THE HANDS OF THE PHILISTINES
     XX. ELAINE TELLS THE TRUTH
    XXI. TEN FATHOMS FROM THE GOAL
   XXII. MADAME LORRAINE’S SURPRISE
  XXIII. GO SHARES ... THEN PART
   XXIV. AFTER THE CONFLICT



                                *PART I*

                  *"THE MYSTERY OF ELAINE ROBERTSON"*



                              *CHAPTER I*

                        *STEPS THAT GROW SILENT*


"They are all gone ... all, that crazy Craig Russel, Sanderson, the
black Colonel, all gone.  All, save William Robertson, myself and you,
and the mystery of King Solomon is not solved...."

Victor Dreyel left off writing and looked expectantly towards the door.
As he sat there in his well-lighted studio he looked rather like an old
bird of prey in a glass cage.  All round him reigned unbroken silence,
but in his clear, sad eyes there lurked an expression of suspense, and,
if any of his fellow-lodgers in No. 30 John Street had seen him at that
moment, they would have said he had cause for the strain; he had the
look of one suffering from painful memories.

Victor Dreyel, a silent man of about sixty, with wrinkled face and white
hair well brushed back from his forehead, his light blue eyes shaded by
bushy brows, was spare and thin. Fifteen years ago, when first he had
taken up his abode on the fifth floor of No. 30 John Street, in one of
the oldest and least frequented quarters of Stockholm, he had been an
object of much curiosity among the neighbors; he seemed so lonely, so
reticent, yet well able to shift for himself, and as he refused all
offers of help with cool but studied politeness, some sort of story
regarding his former life had to be invented and set going. One heard
that he had been mixed up with Chinese smugglers on the coast of
California, another was informed that he had taken part in some Arctic
expedition which had ended disastrously; the general opinion, however,
was that he had led a life of adventure and had returned to Sweden from
North America, where he had been implicated in some mysterious affair
which had left an indelible mark upon his character.

His business in No. 30 John Street was a very prosaic one—he set up as a
photographer.  He was fairly capable though, occasionally, a little
behind the times.  A showcase outside the front door which bore witness
to his skill, might have attracted a goodly number of customers, had not
the Gothic brick walls of St. John’s Church and a thick clump of trees
cut John Street off from all ordinary traffic, so that with the years,
Dreyel’s studio became more and more desolate and empty.  People left
off associating the aged photographer, in threadbare but well-brushed
garments, with any exciting adventure; and there came a time when his
very existence was forgotten.  For fifteen years the silent lodger went
in and out of the old house like a stranger, people got accustomed to
him, though the secret of his life had never been discovered.

It was, however, decreed that the interest of Victor Dreyel’s neighbors
should be aroused once more, and that in a way no one would have dreamed
of, on the evening of the first of August, 1918....

After having again cast wistful glances at the door, Dreyel once more
bent over his desk and continued to write: "Fifteen years have I been
living in this somber and quiet corner; perhaps it was my time of
probation all along.  They say likenesses of the dead bring misfortune
to the living.  After all those years it was a curious gift to you and
me; and whatever may happen to-night I shall not give in without a
struggle...."

Suddenly he let his pen fall.  The church clock struck eight and at the
same moment there was a sharp ring at the door.  Dreyel’s face grew hard
and alert; he passed through the studio and waiting-room, and opened the
door into the passage; a young man in dripping rain-coat entered
precipitately.

"You have been a long time, Murner," said Dreyel.  "Have you brought him
with you?"

"No, he is coming at nine o’clock," replied the young man, throwing his
hat upon a chair, "he couldn’t come earlier.  I had a good deal of
trouble to get at him, but I know his ways and caught him at last; he
seemed very much interested."

"Really?" murmured Dreyel thoughtfully. "The question is whether he can
help me now."

Murner smiled as if he had heard something funny.

"My dear Dreyel, you may rest assured that Maurice Wallion can help you.
Don’t you know that every one calls him the ’problem solver’?  Why, man,
it was he who only last summer unravelled the mystery of the ’Copper
House,’ and he has only lately returned to Sweden after working a whole
twelve-month for the English government."

Murner spoke with all the enthusiasm of youth, and his praise would
greatly have delighted the popular detective reporter of the daily
paper, could he have heard it.  As both men entered the studio Murner
continued: "The question seems rather to be whether he _will_; you are
so unnaturally reticent, Dreyel, but you can talk openly to him.  I have
known you for nearly a year now, and not one word have you ever said
about yourself.  What is this infernal secret you are carrying about
with you? And if you persist in your obstinate silence, what is the use
of asking Maurice Wallion to come here?"

"When he does I shall speak fast enough. If all you say about your
friend is true, he’ll see that he has not come here for nothing.  Oh,
yes, I’ll speak out," Dreyel added slowly, "if only it is not too late!"

Murner shrugged his shoulders.

"He’ll be here in an hour’s time at the latest," he said, "I can’t
understand your anxiety; the wire you got this morning cannot possibly
do you any harm."

"No, the wire can’t; it’s what will come after," replied Dreyel, making
an effort to speak calmly.

"I haven’t even seen it yet," remarked Murner.

"Forgive me," said Dreyel, absently thrusting his hands into his
pockets, "here it is."

The young man eagerly seized the telegram which read as follows:—


    "Victor Dreyel, John Street, 30, Stockholm.

    "Toroni has got to know the secret. Watch the wooden doll.
    Expect me this evening between 8 and 9.  E.R."


Murner was puzzled, he read it through once more but failed to grasp its
meaning.

"Despatched from Gothenburg this morning," he said; "but who are E.R.
and Toroni?"

At the mention of Toroni’s name Dreyel set his lips and snatched the
paper from Murner.

"Toroni?" he repeated after a pause, "Toroni ... he was the thirteenth."

He clenched his hands and relapsed into silence, and for a few seconds
neither spoke. Rain and wind dashed against the window and a few stray,
faded leaves gleamed like gold on the wet panes illumined from within.
Dreyel was deadly pale, and the next moment he said in a strained voice:

"Don’t ask me any more questions now, you will hear all when Maurice
Wallion arrives."

He stopped, lost in thought; Murner cast an inquiring look at him.  On
the careworn face of the aged recluse there lay an expression of stern
resolve which inspired the young man with a feeling of respect and
reverence, and prevented his breaking the silence.

Furtively he looked round the large, gloomy room and shivered.  The
studio was about thirty feet by twenty with a sloping roof of small,
dusty panes of glass in lead-setting, painted grey; a protruding bit of
wall showed that the studio had been made by pulling down the partition
between the two attics.  A screen covered with some white and grey
material, a movable kind of balustrade, a couch, a looking-glass and,
above all, a huge camera under a green cloth and a small table littered
with all sorts of photographic paraphernalia formed the inventory of the
front part.  At the farther end stood a simple writing table, a stool
and a bookcase on which were exposed numerous photographs, the lower
shelf being filled with books, mostly of a technical character.  Two
upholstered chairs flanked the book-case; on the right were two doors
leading into the dark-room and Dreyel’s sleeping apartment.  A row of
electric lamps, minus shades, cast a weird light over the vast,
melancholy chamber which resembled a room in some dismal museum.

Murner’s eyes scanned the photographs on the upper shelf; almost
unconsciously he strove to evolve some sort of connection between that
shelf and the mysterious telegram.  Suddenly he started ... yes, there
among the photos, in the top row, stood the wooden doll mentioned in the
telegram!

He bent forward that he might see it better, but at the same moment
Dreyel, who had been standing behind him, so altered his position that
his shadow crept along the wall like that of an unwieldy wounded beast,
stooping over the shelf as though something there needed protection.
Murner was seized with a feeling of inward discomfort and muttered to
himself, "What in the world have I to do with this odd old fellow’s
existence?"

His connection with Dreyel began in a somewhat casual way.  When he
(Murner) installed himself on the fourth floor of No. 30, John Street,
he felt at once considerable sympathy for his taciturn fellow-lodger on
the floor above. He had approached Dreyel with regard to some
photographs of certain old houses in the neighborhood required for
illustrating an article in one of the local papers; that had been the
beginning of their acquaintance, and Dreyel appeared to have taken a
genuine liking to the young fellow, who was rather inclined to discuss
his future plans with an older, much-travelled and experienced man.

The curious rumors afloat respecting Dreyel’s past had, of course,
reached Murner also, but he had made no attempt to pry into secrets, the
existence of which his own common-sense led him to consider doubtful.

But one day early in June, Dreyel, in Murner’s presence, received a
parcel by post from America.  This parcel was to lead to important
results.  Murner, in his surprise, had exclaimed, "Oh, I say, it seems
your friends in the States haven’t forgotten you!"

His astonishment had been even greater when Dreyel opened the parcel.
It contained only a little wooden image about eight inches high,
representing a man in a workman’s sweater, broad-brimmed hat and
jack-boots, the whole being carved in dark, polished wood.  It was a
doll or rather a statuette skilfully executed. The features were broad
and hard and bore a peculiarly life-like impress of defiance and brute
force.  Dreyel’s face had assumed an ashen hue, but he allowed Murner to
examine the curious little figure without a word.  When, however, the
latter ventured to put a few searching questions, Dreyel curtly replied:

"We shall see, this is only the beginning," and would say no more on the
subject.

It was this identical wooden object Murner had discovered on the shelf
in the studio, and this evening it inspired him with unaccountable
aversion.  In its brown face, hardly bigger than a man’s thumb-nail,
there seemed to lurk a fixed, diabolical grin, giving it the appearance
of some loathsome fetish.

"Watch the wooden doll," repeated Murner. "It is nonsensical; first a
wooden doll, and then that telegram....  The vile thing!  Take it away,
I can’t bear it."

"Don’t you touch it," said Dreyel sharply.

Murner had already put out his hands for it but drew back, surprised at
the tone of Dreyel’s voice.  They stood face to face.

"What do you mean?" asked Murner, "Are you afraid of it?"

"No," replied Dreyel, "but no one must lay a finger upon it ... not
yet."

He took up a position between the shelf and Murner.  When he saw the
expression of Murner’s face, he indulged in a cynical smile. "You are so
impatient," he said, "I can’t tell you any more just now, but perhaps
the visitor I am expecting will...."  He stopped abruptly. "Go down to
your diggings, Murner, and leave me to myself; when your detective
friend does come, he will find a tangle, even in his opinion, worth
unraveling."

Murner was about to answer, but Dreyel’s determined attitude prevented
him, and he turned obediently towards the door.  Then he looked round
once more and said:

"Wouldn’t it be better if I stayed with you?"

"No," replied Dreyel, "it will be better that you should receive Maurice
Wallion downstairs."

He shook the young man’s hand and said good-bye. Then he almost pushed
him into the passage and closed the door.

It was nearly half-past eight when Murner reached his own quarters,
below those occupied by Dreyel.  He hung up his wet coat and went into
his workroom or study.  He felt ill at ease as if he had been drawn into
a strange, antagonistic circle against his will.  Dreyel’s curious
behavior both irritated and worried him. What was it that had really
happened?  He could not prevent his thoughts from dwelling on the
telegram which, undoubtedly, had some connection with the wooden doll.
Who could "E.R." be, whom Dreyel was so anxious to receive alone that
evening?  Who was "Toroni," and what secret had he got to know?

Impatiently Murner threw himself into an armchair in order to clear his
confused brain.

The wooden figure had arrived from America early in June, and to-day,
August the first, that wire from Gothenburg.  The old man had been
pacing to and fro in the studio overhead all the morning.  Then came his
unexpected visit about two P.M., when he was pale, but calm.  "Will you
render me a service, Murner?" he said, "I can’t quite explain, but I
have had a wire which has put me into a damned hole.  You know Maurice
Wallion well, don’t you?"

Murner nodded, much surprised.

"Well, I want his help," continued Dreyel, "it means more to me than I
can say; for God’s sake make Maurice Wallion come at once."

Struck by the painful earnestness of Dreyel’s words, Murner promised to
find the ever busy and unget-at-able "Journalist Detective" whom he knew
well.  After a search lasting several hours, Wallion was discovered at
last and listened with keen interest to what Murner had to tell him, but
he said only:

"Remember me to your friend and tell him I will call at nine o’clock."

Murner had almost expected a refusal.  Could it be possible that Maurice
Wallion, with only such slight data to go upon, had already come to some
conclusion regarding this wretched affair?  And why did Dreyel seek his
help now? Naturally he had often talked about Maurice Wallion with
Dreyel, but if any serious danger threatened Dreyel, would it not have
seemed more practical to communicate with the police? Murner’s sensible
mind was, for the time being, rather irritated by Dreyel’s mysterious
ways. Taking a good whiff at his cigar he said to himself: "All this is
quite childish; his recluse life has affected his brain."

He laid down his cigar and listened intently for footsteps overhead, but
all was quiet.  What might Dreyel be doing now?  The whole house was so
still and silent, it might have been tenantless and empty; only the rain
beat against the windows.  He tried once more to collect his thoughts
and calmly recall what Dreyel had said and his own words, but he had to
give up the attempt.  The bare remembrance of the wooden doll and the
telegram was revolting; the whole thing was so foolish....

Suddenly he heard sounds above; some one was walking across the studio;
he recognized Dreyel’s steps, but immediately after he heard some one go
up who seemed to move much more quickly; judging from the sound the
steps proceeded from the waiting-room as Dreyel’s had done.  Murner was
startled.  So there was a visitor up there?  It must have been true
then, and the telegram had not been an ill-timed joke; and Dreyel’s
words had not been the outcome of a diseased brain.  Surely the stranger
must be the redoubtable "E.R."  The steps halted for a few seconds, then
turned towards the studio and when they ceased altogether Murner fancied
he heard a dull thud, as of a heavy trunk or sack being deposited on the
floor.  His curiosity waxed stronger; he waited impatiently, but nothing
more was to be heard.  He tried to picture the situation.  Most likely
Dreyel and the mysterious visitor had drawn their chairs up to the
writing-table and were having a long, subdued conversation; about what?
The wooden doll?

Murner thrust his hands into his pockets and paced up and down the room,
feeling much perturbed.  He looked at the clock; it was twenty minutes
to nine; twenty more long, tedious minutes must elapse before Maurice
Wallion would come.  Wouldn’t it be better for him to go upstairs at
once?  Why such profound silence up there?  No footsteps ... no anything
... He felt his heart beat; a wave of icy cold seemed to emanate from
the stillness above.  All at once he realized that possibly he was the
only friend Dreyel had, the only one to whom the old man could as a last
resource turn with his prayer for help!

He hurried to the door; as he was about to open it a shrill scream broke
the silence of the house, and a door banged a long way off.



                              *CHAPTER II*

                       *"DO NOT LET HER ESCAPE"*


Thomas Murner tore open the door and rushed into the passage.  Had he
for a moment dreamed that this proceeding would land him in an adventure
destined to influence all his life and send him to the other end of the
world, he might have thought twice before dashing out in such a hurry;
but Fate had already cast the die.  From that moment or rather from a
quarter to nine on August the first, 1918, Thomas Murner became the hero
of many a wild and curious episode.

At this point it may be as well to give a sketch of this young man’s
person, character, and position in life.

Thomas Murner, at twenty-eight years of age, was in many ways as lonely
as Victor Dreyel; both his parents were dead and other family ties were
little more than a myth to him, but he differed from Dreyel in that he
was a cheerful, sociable and energetic young man, with the normal
aspirations and keen intelligence of youth, instead of a soured recluse.
In possession of a fair competence inherited from his father, ambitious,
and cherishing great plans as a fully qualified architect, the future
loomed brightly before him.  After a short and laborious apprenticeship
in an architect’s office, he was now cast upon his own resources; his
position at this time might have been much better if he had not devoted
so much work and time to a "bright idea"; for "bright ideas" emanating
from the brains of aspiring young men do not always meet with due
appreciation.

Murner’s "bright idea" had been the erection of a "Terrace House," but
what sort of an edifice this was meant to be no one had had the patience
or curiosity to inquire.

In person he was of medium height, thin, agile, with an impulsive
manner, dark hair, blue eyes and an engaging expression of youthful
self-reliance played round his mouth.  Every one liked him, and liked
him too well to take his "bright ideas" seriously, which amused more
than it vexed him.  Though skeptical he was ever hopeful, and was
prepared to spend a few more years in attaining the realization of his
dream, which took the form of a luxurious and prosperous office whence
the "fashionable, famous architect" would issue orders and plans for the
building of innumerable "Terrace Houses," but, as has been already
observed, no one can foretell the future.

The first thing Murner heard when he stepped out of the half-dark roomy
passage was the sound of some one coming out on the upper landing and
shouting down the stairs: "Don’t let her escape!"  He recognized the
croaking voice of the porter’s wife, and cried: "What on earth is up?"

"Is that Mr. Murner?  For God’s sake come up here, something awful has
happened ... but don’t let that little monster escape."

The voice could be heard all over the house and, finally ended in an
hysterical scream; every door was opened and people were heard coming up
from the lower rooms.  In two strides Murner was at the top of the
stairs where he found the porter’s wife, white with fear and shaking
from head to foot, standing at the studio door.

"Quick, tell me what has occurred and who it is that must not be allowed
to escape?"

"The girl in the grey dress," stammered the woman, "she came out of
here."

"Out of the studio?  Well, and what then?"

"She murdered Mr. Dreyel."

For a second Tom stood as if paralyzed, but the next moment he dashed
through the waiting-room into the studio.  On the floor right in front
of the bookshelf lay Dreyel, face downward, his shoulders convulsively
drawn up, his head and the upper part of the body turned on one side and
both arms stretched out.  Murner sank on his knees and put out his hands
to turn the dead man over, but quickly drew back.  Victor Dreyel was
past human aid; a knife had penetrated through his clothes between the
shoulder blades; his coat had been considerably crumpled by the fall.

The porter’s wife suddenly burst into loud and uncontrollable weeping,
but the young man strove to keep cool.  From the woman’s disconnected
account he gathered that she was on her usual round, locking the doors,
and extinguishing the lights; finding the studio door ajar she had gone
in; struck by the unusual quiet she had proceeded to the other end, and,
to her indescribable horror had found Dreyel lying dead on the floor.

"Well now, about the girl?" asked Murner impatiently, "the girl in
grey?"

"She stood hidden behind that screen there, and when I screamed and was
about to run away, she ran out of the door just in front of me and
slammed it after her."

"What was she like?"

"I could only see that she was in grey; she fled past me like a cat and
when I got to the door she was gone.  I understood then that she must
have killed him."

Murner interrupted her.  "Telephone at once to the police," he said, "I
shall remain here."

As she obediently went to the door he called after her, "You wait below
for the police and make them send for a doctor."

Left alone he gazed for a few minutes at the still and lifeless object
before him with dry and smarting eyes, for the tragedy unnerved him; it
was so difficult to think that poor shrunken form in his threadbare
clothes was a dead man; he knew that the dull thud he had heard while in
his workroom, must have been caused by Dreyel’s fall, and the light
footsteps must have been those of the girl.  Dreyel had never mentioned
any girl to him....

He endeavored to collect his thoughts, and as he pondered on what Dreyel
had or had not said, cursed the indifference with which he had listened
to words, some of which, no doubt, had been of serious import.  If only
he had remained up there with him; it seemed almost as if he had
betrayed the old recluse to his enemies.

Mechanically he went up to the writing-table where his attention was
attracted by a white paper half concealed under the blotter; it was
probably a half-finished letter.  He began to read it, but the words
failed to convey any meaning to his brain, and he caught himself staring
again at the motionless body, when a sudden noise made him start
violently.  Had the police come already?

Unconsciously he stuffed the letter into his pocket and strained his
ears to listen.  Steps were audible in the waiting-room; yes, it was the
police.  Murner gave vent to a sigh of intense relief.  Three detectives
entered hastily, followed by the porter’s wife.  The chief detective was
a pleasant, thick set individual, with a small, grizzled mustache; he
looked round and, stopping short at sight of the corpse, said in a
commanding tone, "Yes, things do look pretty bad up here.  Has any one
touched him?"

The porter’s wife denied having done so, and he advanced a step nearer
to the body.  He cast a quick, penetrating look at Murner and said
sternly, "Mr. Murner, I presume?"  The young man bowed slightly.  "I am
Superintendent Aspeland.  If I have been rightly informed you also live
in this house and were intimately acquainted with the murdered man.  Is
that so?"

"I was acquainted with him, but not intimately."

"You were not present at the murder?"

"Certainly not," replied Murner, and he would have said more had not the
superintendent prevented him.

"A young girl, dark, slender, very pale and dressed in grey is said to
have run out of the house ... Did you see her?  No?  Do you know who she
is?"

"No, I never heard of her before this evening," said Murner, wondering
whether in this connection he ought to mention the telegram or his
having heard strange footsteps.  As though answering his unspoken
thoughts the superintendent continued:

"I shall presently have a few more questions to put to you, Mr. Murner;
perhaps you will be good enough to retire to your own quarters
meanwhile.  After what this woman has said it seems the girl never left
the house at all."

"I can swear to that," broke in the porter’s wife, "When she ran out of
the studio, there were at least five or six people about or on the
stairs, but not one of them saw her.  She must have hidden somewhere,
though I can’t make out..."

"So much the worse for her if she _is_ here," said the superintendent
gruffly, "I have two men stationed in the yard and two more in the road;
now I am just going to have a look round till the doctor comes."

He took out a pocket-book and pencil, beckoned to one of the other
detectives, and bent down over the body.  Murner profited by the
occasion and left the landing, grateful for the relief; he longed for
undisturbed solitude in which to think over recent events.  Outside he
encountered a dozen inquisitive tenants, mostly women, and beat a
precipitate retreat from their alarmed inquiries. He found his door shut
but not locked, though he remembered leaving it ajar in his hurry to go
up to the studio, and supposed that some passer-by had closed it.  He
went in, locked the door and switched on the light.  Catching sight of
himself in the glass, he noticed that he was deadly pale, and seeing his
own drawn, distorted features, he was seized with the most unreasonable
fury against the inhuman wretch who had murdered Dreyel.  "It is
horrible," he said, to himself, "there is no possible excuse for such an
act of brutality."

He took a draught of water and opened the door leading to his study, but
remained on the threshold petrified ... some one was sitting in his
armchair by the table!

It was the tall, slight figure of a girl in a simple grey costume and
black silk hat!  The large, half open brown eyes were set in a
colorless, thin face; her lips quivered and her hands were tightly
clasped over a leather satchel on her knee.

Their eyes met.



                             *CHAPTER III*

                           *THE GIRL IN GREY*


Tom Murner closed the inner door mechanically from force of habit and
leant against it.  He began to wonder if he were dreaming.  The girl sat
still, immovable, but followed every movement of his with her eyes.

All of a sudden she said something but in so low a tone that he could
not hear her words.

"What was it you said?" he asked hoarsely.

She continued staring at him with the same unnatural look in her eyes;
but presently the bag slipped from her knees and he noticed that her
hands were twitching convulsively.  He was beside himself at the
awkwardness of the situation and angrily inquired:

"How did you get here?  Who are you?"

She rose from, her chair and said in a listless tone: "I _had_ to hide,
I want to get out of here."

She bent down to pick up her bag and burst into tears, then leaving the
satchel on the floor, she made wildly for the door, but as Tom did not
move she stopped short in front of him with bowed head, her whole form
shaking.

"Let me go," she said.  "Oh, God, let me get away from here!"

"The house is full of police," he answered deliberately.  "They declare
that Victor Dreyel met with his death at the hands of a girl in grey."

She staggered as though she had been struck. She moaned pitifully,
lifted her hands to her throat and fixed her eyes upon his face as if
dazed.  The silent appeal in her feverishly burning eyes made him regret
his harshness.

"It is not true," she said, closed her eyes and fell back in a dead
faint.  He caught her in his arms and carried her to the easy chair; her
white blouse showed through the open grey coat.  A wave of compassion
surged through his brain as he saw how frail and helpless she was;
small, pearly teeth gleamed between her half-open lips. She breathed
faintly and her deathly pallor accentuated the thinness of her face; her
expression was one of childhood innocence.  For a moment he touched her
hand, which was soft and warm.  Could it be that these small hands were
stained with the lifeblood of Victor Dreyel?  He shuddered at the bare
thought and yet how could the situation be explained?  Here he was in
his own room alone with a girl ... an entire stranger to him ... wanted
by the police ... in a dead faint.  He was at his wits’ end.

"This can’t go on," he reflected.  "What on earth am I to do?"

She had not entirely lost consciousness, and he saw that her dark eyes
were fixed upon his with a puzzled expression.  Presently in a broken
voice she said:

"I was hiding behind your door when you opened it; I heard people about
and ran in here."

"You ran in here?  And what for, may I ask?" he queried in despair.

"I did not want to fall into the hands of the police...."

"Then you must have some reason for being afraid of them?"

She looked down without answering; after a few seconds she glanced up
again and asked, "Is there any one about who could hear me?"

The unexpected question startled him; he was about to reply in the
negative, but his suspicious were roused, and he made a hasty
examination of his rooms.

His quarters comprised three rooms—his study littered with sketches,
plans and models; his living—or as he preferred to call it his
smoke-room, with comfortable leather chairs; and his bedroom.  At first
he had intended to make his household a model one, but his various
housekeepers having proved failures he had turned his domestic offices
into lumber rooms. Returning from his investigation he said:

"There is no one about, and now, I trust, you will explain how you came
to be found in the studio?"

"And supposing I can’t?" she whispered.

"In that case I am afraid the police will make you!"

At that moment there was a violent ring at the outer door and Tom caught
the buzz of voices.  The ringing was renewed from time to time,
accompanied by loud knocking; and he went towards the hall—as in a
dream.

The girl jumped up without a word and threw her arms round him in order
to hold him back. Her tears broke out afresh, and her flaming eyes made
her look like a little fury; but he pushed her away and said in a
decisive tone:

"Look here, this won’t do, I must open the door."

"No, no," she whimpered, "you must help me.... I can swear ... Oh, do
help me!"  She covered her face with her hands and he heard her murmur:
"There is no one in the world who will help me."

He did not release his hold of her and the small figure seemed to
dwindle in his grasp: without knowing how it happened he found her head
resting on his shoulder.

"Well, well, try to be calm," he said austerely "I never said I should
hand you over to the police, did I?"

"No, you did not," she replied gravely "you did not."

She sighed and dried her tears.

"Go into the next room and keep quiet," he said hurriedly.

The girl hesitated, but another furious ring scared her and the next
minute she had disappeared.  Tom stuffed her satchel under some papers,
looked round once more and found a grey glove on the chair which he
bundled into his pocket and went to open the door. Superintendent
Aspeland walked in.

"So this is where you live," he grunted, looking about him.  "Yes, you
seem to have all you want here.  Have you heard anything of the woman
since you came down from the studio? Have you seen her?  What about that
window there, does that look into the street?"

Tom drew a long breath.

"Are you referring to the girl in grey, Inspector?"

"Yes, of course."

"I know nothing more about her," said the young man in a loud voice;
"but that window over there does look into the street," he added.

"Hm!" said the superintendent, who had already thrown open the window,
and was looking up and down the road.  He closed it rather noisily.

"I see," he mumbled, tugging at his mustache, "and what about that door
over there?"

"Goes into the next room," Tom said, inwardly quaking.  "It is..."

"Oh," remarked Aspeland carelessly, taking out pocket-book and pencil.
"Oh, I say, I just picked up a telegram here."

He made Tom tell him what he knew about the telegram from Gothenburg,
then he said rather crossly, "It seems to me as if no one here were
capable of giving any explanation of this tiresome business!  Oh, well,
I haven’t done with it yet; we shall see."

He stood still for a while without appearing to be looking at anything
in particular, then he slowly walked out, shutting the door after him.
Tom began to feel dizzy and to wonder what he really had been doing; had
he really in cold blood been trying to bamboozle a police
superintendent?

The door of the next room was gently opened and the girl came out.  They
looked at one another in silence.  Tom essayed to speak, but his voice
failed him.  In his mind’s eye he still beheld the lifeless body, and
his wrath and indignation against the murderer broke out afresh.

"Anyhow, you were there," he said, hardness and suspicion in his tone.

The girl hung her head.

"Then you don’t believe me?" she said in a low voice.  "I ... I can’t
explain.  It is so hard ... I am so awfully lonely."

Tom went a step nearer to her.

"If only you..." he began eagerly, then stopped abruptly.  What had he
been going to say?  What did he know?

"Won’t you tell me who you are?" he continued more gently.  She
shivered.

"No, I had better go; thanks for what you have done, and ... goodbye."

She put out her hand without raising her eyes, and let the small, soft
fingers rest for a moment in his own.  She withdrew them with a nervous
exclamation.  There was again a ring at the door as the church clock
struck nine, and without uttering a word the girl ran back into the
smoking room.  "She trusts me," he thought, and he felt oddly touched,
but quickly pulled himself together.

He went out into the hall, fully determined to tell the inspector
everything.  Was it not his duty?  But when he opened the door he was
completely taken aback; for without any ado, a tall, well set-up man in
a mackintosh crossed the threshold, hung his hat on a peg and unbuttoned
his coat.

"Good evening," he said in a deep, mellow voice, "this house seems more
lively than I was led to believe.  Where is your mysterious friend
Dreyel?"

Tom stood as if turned to stone.

"Maurice Wallion, by Jove!" he said panting, "I had quite forgotten you
were coming."

The journalist looked at him as he wiped the rain drops from his face.
Tom felt like a guilty schoolboy before those calm grey eyes, and went
hot all over.  A sudden smile passed over the detective’s usually grave
and impassive features.

"I begin to suspect," he said, "that you ought to have called me in
sooner.  You promised me an interesting evening and the first persons I
run into are two men from the police.  What has happened?  Has Victor
Dreyel got himself into a mess?"

"He was murdered half-an-hour ago."  said Tom.

Maurice Wallion bit his lip and cast a peculiarly keen look at the young
man; then he slowly took his way to the study, looked round and said:
"Too late, I see.  Where and how did it happen?"

Tom, in an incoherent manner, told him. He mentioned his conversation
with Dreyel at eight o’clock, the wooden doll, the telegram and the
mysterious footsteps, finishing up with the suspicions of the police in
regard to a certain young girl in grey.

But he went no further.  Now, having recapitulated all the details in
order, he himself for the first time got a clear insight as to how
matters stood.  A cold sweat came over him.

Up there, in the studio ... a dead man; down here in the very next room
an unknown girl, possibly an adventuress, most likely Dreyel’s
murderess, in spite of her assertions to the contrary ... concealed in
his own abode!

"I do believe you are turning pale," observed Wallion, who had been
narrowly studying his friend’s face; "got anything more to tell me?"

Tom hesitated.

"Wallion," he said at last, "do you believe the poor girl did it?"

"Who?  Your girl in grey, the stranger? How should _I_ know?  Funnier
things than that have happened."

Wallion looked annoyed and absent.  He listened attentively to
occasional footsteps overhead; without asking, he knew they came from
Dreyel’s studio.

"They have got something to think about now," he muttered with an odd
flash in his eye. "I say, Murner, the story Dreyel might have told would
have been worth hearing.  Is that Aspeland walking about up there?"

"I think it must be," answered Tom feebly. He was in doubt as to what
Wallion intended to do, and dared not ask; he kept thinking of the girl
in hiding not ten feet away—thinking it might be better to let Wallion
know that she was there.  In his confusion he fancied that Wallion knew
everything already, and was only making fun of him; he became desperate.
He had the confession on the tip of his tongue.  Better make a clean
breast of it at once, he thought—and was just going to open his mouth
when the journalist said: "If the wooden doll has disappeared, then the
matter will be cleared up."

Tom drew a deep breath.

"What ... what do you mean?"

"Let us go up to the studio," was Wallion’s answer: "if I judge the
situation aright this is the most curious mystery I have ever had to
deal with."

"_You_ have had to deal with?"

"Yes, and I intend to get to the bottom of it too; I feel I owe it to
poor old Dreyel."

He went out quickly.  Tom followed, taking good care to shut the door
tight this time. They went upstairs and into the studio.

Aspeland, two detectives and a well-dressed gentleman with a grey beard
stood silent and transfixed in the middle of the room.  All the lamps
were lighted, and the Superintendent was busy making notes in his book.

"What do you want here?" he called out without turning round.

"Good evening, Aspeland," said Wallion, "how are you?"

Aspeland turned quickly.

"’The Problem Solver,’ as sure as I am alive," he said awkwardly,
"however did you get here? Are you a conjurer?  Has the news of this
tragedy already reached the town?"

"No, not the town, but it has reached me; it is something in my line of
business you see. Have you got him fast?"

"Him?  Who?"

"Why, the murderer, of course."

"Well it isn’t a HE, it’s a SHE," Aspeland answered, "and she is here in
this house, and we are going to be after her."

"How do you know she is here in this house?"

"Because she was seen running out of the studio after the crime, also
because nobody saw her go down the stairs, though heaps of people were
about.  I tell you she is in hiding somewhere not far off, and if I have
to send fifty men after her I mean to catch her."

Wallion gazed thoughtfully at Tom.

"Oh, very well," was all he said.  He thrust his hands into his pockets
and took a good, long look round the studio.  The body had been removed,
but a dark red spot, scarcely dry, showed on the grey linoleum in front
of the bookcase; it was but a small stain which could easily have been
covered with an inverted teacup, but it was of supreme importance, and
all eyes were automatically turned upon it, as Wallion bent over it.
For several seconds there was no sound save the patter of the rain on
the glass roof, and then Wallion inquired as to the whereabouts of the
body.

"It has been taken into the bedroom," answered Aspeland.  "The doctor
says death must have been instantaneous, the man having been stabbed in
the back," he pointed to the silent gentleman with the grey beard by way
of introduction, and said, "Doctor Baum."

Having bowed to each other, the doctor laconically remarked, "A most
cold-blooded murder—the work of an expert.  Between the
shoulder-blades—straight through the heart—internal hemorrhage, death
practically instantaneous."

"Does the wound give any clue to the instrument used?"

"Yes, it must have been a sharp, long and narrow blade, possibly a
daggerlike weapon, used with unerring precision."

Aspeland interrupted the doctor impatiently.

"Would you like to view the corpse?" he inquired of Wallion.  "I am not
against hearing your opinion," he added, somewhat clumsily, and called
to one of the detectives: "Tell the porter’s wife to come up again."

Then the superintendent, Wallion and the doctor proceeded to Dreyel’s
small, untidy bedroom.  Tom followed in their wake, but he could not
bring himself to go near the iron bedstead from which the doctor lifted
the sheet.

"Let me look at his hands," said Wallion with decision, "and then help
me to turn him over."

"The wound has closed, as you see," said the doctor, as if he were
giving a lecture on anatomy, "an uncommonly well-directed blow—not a
bone touched—the inquest will show..."

Tom shuddered and went back into the studio, the other three soon
followed, and the doctor took up his hat.

"We shall meet again to-morrow," he said to Aspeland.  "Good evening,
gentlemen."

Wallion’s face assumed a new expression; he seemed to have been deeply
impressed at sight of the dead man, and Tom inquired anxiously, "Found
out anything?"

The journalist looked at him for a moment,

"Tom," he exclaimed suddenly, "I wonder whether any man has ever been
murdered from a more incomprehensible motive than your poor friend.
Whoever it was who did the deed he is the vilest monster I ever came
across, unfit to be called a human being.  Yes," he added abjectly,
"Dreyel, in his extreme need, begged for my help—I know why now—and the
help came too late..."  The muscles of his face were working.  "But
whoever it was that killed Victor Dreyel, he shall not escape."

Before Tom’s eyes there rose a vision of a girl hidden in the dark room
and, quaking with fear and apprehension, he listened to the steps of the
pursuers.  At last he asked: "What are you going to do?"

"I am going to unravel the mystery, of course," replied Wallion, rather
irritably.

He went up to the portrait shelf and said, "It seems absurd, and yet it
is true, Tom, this is the place where the wooden doll stood, isn’t it?"

The young man shivered.  Wallion was pointing to the upper shelf and to
his dismay, Tom perceived that the little wooden figure was indeed no
longer there; but Wallion gave him no time to speak.  Turning to the
superintendent, he suddenly remarked:

"Well, Aspeland, and what is supposed to have been the motive?"

The officer who was just then deep in conversation with the porter’s
wife, replied with some irritation:

"The motive, sir?  That will be a question to be answered later on.
Once we’ve got hold of the perpetrator the motive will reveal itself
fast enough."

Wallion smiled at Aspeland’s display of temper.  He knew that clever,
conscientious official of old and could make a shrewd guess at what had
put him out.  It would have been an immense gratification to the old
veteran to have laid hands on a reckless criminal, but to run down a
poor girl who might have been driven to commit the crime, and was now
probably hiding like some hunted animal, was not at all to his taste.
Wallion cast an interrogative glance at Tom and said:

"Isn’t it rather a waste of time to wait here any longer?"

"What do you mean?" said the inspector in a grumbling tone.

"Would it not be more to the point to search for the short, slim
individual who climbed on to the roof through that window there?"

Nothing in Wallion’s tone gave the slightest indication that he attached
any importance to his question, but all eyes turned to him and the
official became uncomfortably red.

"Eh!  What?  Window ... I ... what window?"

"That one over there," said Wallion pointing to the one furthest from
the door.

"Oh, that one," said Aspeland drily, hurrying towards it.  "I saw that,
you need not teach me observation; Dreyel may have closed it himself."

Wallion called his attention to a chair which stood under said window,
and had on its seat the mark of a wet shoe.

"If you measure that mark you ’ll find that it was made by a shoe two or
three sizes shorter than Dreyel’s.  Besides the window can only have
been opened a few minutes or there would be some drops of rain about
here, and it is not—as you say—closed.  It has only dropped—as can be
seen by the unturned bolt.  You will notice also that the intruder,
probably to facilitate getting on to the roof, stood on the fore part of
his feet or toes, as the impression on the seat shows."

Aspeland stroked his chin.

"Well, well," he said deprecatingly.  "But about the girl, the
murderess?  Apparently she had an accomplice..."

Wallion’s manner and speech had so far been those of a calm, critical
observer; now, he was roused, and in an authoritative voice, he said,
"Aspeland, it was not a girl who dealt that blow.  Dismiss all thought
of her from your mind for the present; you don’t believe me, but I say
it again, some _man_ has escaped through that window on to the roof.  I
maintain that it was he who murdered Dreyel.  Moreover here is his
card!"

Wallion went back to the shelf and pointed to its surface where the dust
lay thick, except for a small space of perhaps three inches, indicating
that some object which had lain there for a long time had recently been
removed.

"Good Heavens!" exclaimed the porter’s wife who had just come up,
wringing her hands, "the wooden image has gone."

"Yes, it has," answered Wallion, "but Mr. Murner can bear witness that
it was there at 8:30 this evening; the marks in the dust are
irrefutable....  They were made by a coat sleeve with two buttons,
therefore, undoubtedly, that of a man.  At a guess one would say the
shelf must be about three and a half feet in height, and the marks in
the dust lead to the conclusion that the man must have been short of
stature and slight, otherwise he could not have wriggled through that
small aperture in the corner."

"If it happens to have been that one," growled Aspeland.

"Of course, but why shouldn’t it have been that one?  There were no
marks of dust on Dreyel’s sleeve, so it wasn’t he who removed the wooden
doll, and there was no one else here."

"No, but the wooden figure—what was the story about it?" broke in
Aspeland.  "A wooden image?" he added fixing his eyes on Tom. "That must
have been a most wonderful thing, what do you know about it?"

"Nothing more than that Dreyel received the figure from America early in
July," said Tom, describing the packet as well as he could. "That’s all,
but it must certainly have been the object alluded to in the telegram."

"Telegram, telegram," muttered the superintendent, looking round
distractedly.  "So there is a wooden doll and a man who..." his
bloodshot eyes turned to the window in the corner.  "Johnson," he cried,
"go out and whistle for one or two men to help you, and then go and
examine the roof minutely."  Addressing the porter’s wife he said:

"Did you happen to see a short, agile man anywhere about the house this
evening?"

She shook her head.  Aspeland sniffed.

"Come along with me," he said roughly, "we’ll ask some of the other
tenants; some one must have noticed him, seeing he was made of flesh and
blood," and, giving Wallion an angry look, he went out.

The other detectives remained to keep watch on the window.  Murner and
Wallion lighted a cigarette and went out arm-in-arm, "Let’s go down to
your digs," said Wallion.



                              *CHAPTER IV*

                          *"HE FRIGHTENED ME"*


Tom stopped aghast at his door with the key in his hand.  It was again
half-open.

"That’s odd," he murmured, "it begins to be quite uncanny; I could have
taken my oath that this time I shut the door and locked it, too."

Wallion pricked up his ears.  "_This_ time?" he said.

"Yes, when the porter’s wife gave the alarm I forgot it and left it
open, but now?  It certainly is very odd."

Wallion became much interested; secretly he measured the distance
between the door and the stairs leading to the studio; but he made no
remark, and turning the handle of the hall door walked in.

Tom who had changed color, laid a detaining hand on his arm.

"Maurice," he panted, "just a minute, I’ve got something to tell you."

Wallion turned his head and fixed his penetrating grey eyes on Tom.

"Look here, Tom," he said calmly, "a little while ago you asked me
whether I thought the girl in gray was guilty?  You then heard me insist
that it was a man who had killed Dreyel. Do you take me?"

The young man was dumbfounded.  Wallion smiled, opened the door and went
in; all was dark.

"Didn’t you leave the light on?" Wallion asked, standing still.

Tom, completely unnerved, trembled.

"Certainly I did," he stammered, "Maurice ... there is..."

"Stop," whispered Wallion, "there is some one crouching behind the inner
door."

He fumbled for the electric button and found it after a time; the flash
revealed a figure, huddled up against the wall of the study door. It was
the girl in gray ... she might have been asleep, her head sunk upon her
breast and her arms clasped round her knees.  Wallion closed the outer
door and bent over the motionless figure.

Tom endeavored to raise her head, but it drooped helplessly to one side.

"She has fainted," said Wallion, "we must take her somewhere, ... but
where?"

"Lay her on the couch in the smoke-room," suggested Tom.

They lifted her carefully and laid her on the couch.  As Tom was gently
slipping a cushion under her head, she opened her eyes.  "He did
frighten me so," she said in a feeble voice.

"Who frightened you?" asked Tom.

"In the hall," continued the girl, more feebly still.  "I was afraid of
being alone ... and I crept out ... then he came down the stairs behind
me ... and ... he frightened me so."

"Who was it?  What was he like?"

She made no answer.  Wallion bent down and saw that her eyes were again
closed.  He took Tom by the arm and made him look at her left wrist.  A
slender thread of blood had come from under the sleeve of her coat, and
drops were falling on the couch.

"He not only frightened her, the beast, he must have hurt her too!  Lend
me a hand and let us help her off with her jacket."

They tenderly raised the unconscious form and divested her of her outer
garment.  The left sleeve of her blouse was saturated with blood;
Wallion rolled it up gently and said:

"A nasty wound, but not necessarily dangerous; she probably put up her
arm to save herself. Go and get some water."

With a practised hand Wallion bandaged the girl’s arm whilst Tom stood
by on tenter-hooks. Having finished his work, Wallion gravely scanned
the face of his patient, who was breathing calmly and regularly; then he
drew Tom into the study.

"Now, be quick and tell me the meaning of this," he said.

Tom unburdened his oppressed conscience in a stream of words; the girl
had concealed herself in his rooms for fear of being taken by the
police, but she herself had protested she was innocent.

"In Heaven’s name, what shall we do with her, Maurice?"

Wallion listened attentively and then said:

"Yes, my good friend, the situation is undoubtedly embarrassing; our
little unknown guest must choose between two things.  Either she must
put herself into the hands of the police or she must pass the night in
your bachelor apartments.  Present day conventions most certainly demand
that..."

"Conventions be hanged!" burst out Tom in despair; "We can’t leave the
poor thing to her fate like this."

"She requires care," said Wallion.  "She can’t be moved without
attracting attention, but there is a certain law which refers to
’accessories’ to a crime."

Tom paced wildly up and down and did not notice the gleam of quiet humor
in the journalist’s eyes.

"This must be a punishment for my sins—a nice predicament to be in, by
Jove—what on earth am I to do?"

Wallion pushed him into his armchair.

"Try to be quiet," he said, "and listen to what I have to propose.  The
girl did not kill Dreyel; on the contrary, the real murderer made an
attempt to kill her too.  We can’t tell what business she had in the
studio, she might have come only to warn Dreyel; anyhow, she certainly
had. nothing to do with the murderer, and it might be ... mark you ... I
only say it _might_ be that if we hand her over to the police her last
plight would be worse than the first.  She had better make her
confession to us, then we shall know where we are."

Tom raised his eyes.  "Then you think...?"

"The girl must remain here, there’s nothing else to be done."

"Yes, but ... that ... that..."

"Is a clear case for Mrs. Toby," swiftly interrupted Wallion, as he
reached out his hand for the telephone receiver.

"And who the deuce is Mrs. Toby?"

"Mrs. Toby happens to be my housekeeper, she is a regular good old soul
and can adapt herself ... turn her hand to anything."

Tom heard him call for his own number, and after a while, the response
came: "Hallo!  It is Wallion ... No ... Want your help immediately. Take
a taxi to 30, John Street, and come up to the fourth floor, the name on
the door is Thomas Murner....  Yes ... now—at once ... No, some one has
been taken ill ... Yes ... Thanks ... Good-bye."

He restored the receiver to its place and smiled.

"She is used to obeying queer orders," he said.  "You wait here, whilst
I just go out and see what the police are doing."

With that he disappeared.  Somewhat easier in mind, Tom sat quiet for a
while; he still had a feeling of moving in a weird, incomprehensible
dream; and wondered how it was going to end? He rose and he peered
through the door of the smoke-room, the girl still lay where they had
put her.  Her thin face was very white but peaceful; she had the look of
a sleeping child, tired after play.  Where had she sprung from?  Who
might she be?

He continued walking up and down in his study, when a noise in the
street below disturbed his meditations.  He threw open the window and
looked out.  The shifting clouds and the rain had turned this August
night into a very autumnal one, but the lamps of two motors cast a
glaring light across the pavement, and he saw two men coming out of the
house bearing a coffin, which they deposited in the larger of the two
motors; he understood that they were taking Dreyel’s body away.

Soon afterwards Superintendent Aspeland came out, accompanied by Maurice
Wallion; they exchanged a few parting words and shook hands; Aspeland
got into the other motor. When the party had gone Wallion returned
indoors.

A few minutes later he entered the study, flung himself down on a chair
and said in a tone of considerable annoyance: "Aspeland ought to have
had more men with him."

"Why?"

"Dreyel’s murderer has got away!"

"You don’t say so?  How did that happen?"

"The detectives found clear proof that a man _had_ got through the
window on to the roof, precisely as I said, but he was no longer there.
It so happens that at the back there are two unoccupied attics; he broke
a pane of glass in one of them and by that means landed in a passage on
the fifth floor.  He must have slipped out at the very moment the girl
went to your door; perhaps he recognized her—who can tell? Anyhow he
attacked and stabbed her.  By the last flight of stairs he came upon the
police, so without more ado, he rang the first bell he saw. When the
door was opened he pushed the servant aside, ran through one of the
rooms, opened a window looking into the street and jumped out—that’s
all.  When the men started in pursuit he had disappeared in the
darkness. Aspeland, meanwhile, saw I had been right and at once
despatched men in all directions to catch the criminal, who really
was—as I surmised—very short, spare and agile; he had on a green
mackintosh and a felt bowler, but no one saw his face, and the ’mack’
was subsequently found on a seat in the churchyard.  For all the good
that clue is, I don’t envy the police."

Curiously enough the story of the assassin’s escape seemed to afford Tom
Murner a certain amount of relief; somehow it rendered his own position
a trifle less compromising, and as the police were everywhere on the
watch for the man, things looked decidedly better.

"Did Aspeland say anything more about the girl?" he asked.

"No.  Aspeland is a clever fellow and has had experience, he is always
ready to tackle a job, but will brook no interference.  Just now he
seems to have forgotten her."

"So much the better."

"Yes, but there are still detectives in the house, and I have seen among
them, a sharp little chap called Ferlin, one of the cleverest spies in
the force.  The porter, too, is keeping his eyes open, and so from this
time forward you must be officially on the ’sick-list.’"

"I ... on the ’sick-list.’"

"Exactly, and, indeed, you really don’t look at all well since this
tragedy occurred.  We shall have to exaggerate things a little ... as an
excuse for certain other matters; therefore, your nervous system has
gone all wrong, so you have asked me to stay and keep you company for a
few days ... and I have sent for my housekeeper to look after us both."

"I get you——!" said Tom.

"Well, isn’t it true?  The story is a little thin, I grant, but that
can’t be helped.  How is the girl now?"

"I believe she is asleep."

"Good!  Early to-morrow morning we’ll send for a doctor I know, who
won’t say any more than is absolutely needful.  And now, whilst we are
waiting for Mrs. Toby, you might as well tell me—even to the minutest
detail, what took place at the studio in the afternoon."

He lay back in his chair and listened attentively, now and then helping
the younger man out by judicious questions.  When he bad all the facts
clearly before him, he quietly put on his considering cap.

"Dreyel, I suppose, obstinately kept to his secret to the last," he
remarked.  "He wanted help and yet received the mysterious ’E.R,’ quite
alone.  The paradox is only on the surface ... it may be assumed that he
himself was anxious for an explanation though he feared danger at the
same time.  To speak plainly, he anticipated news from ’E.R.’ and danger
from Toroni.  It is impossible to ascertain whether Toroni himself was a
personal danger or only the source from which it might spring.  It can
only be surmised that the man who has just escaped had some connection
with Toroni the 13th.  Again, I should not wonder if the girl on the
couch might turn out to be ’E.R.’"

"I have had my suspicions all the time," said Tom, "but that would be
awful ... awful."

"Awful?  I don’t see that, we know nothing about that.  Everything
considered, it is clear there exists some secret of supreme importance
to Dreyel and one or two other persons in America.  A certain man named
Toroni had got to know the secret and it was in danger. Therefore ’E.R.’
was sent to warn Dreyel; but when ’E.R.’ arrived at the studio, Dreyel
was found dead, slain by his adversary or his adversary’s agent.  To me
that seems a natural conclusion."

"And the wooden doll?"

"I confess that is an extraordinary detail, though ’detail’ is hardly
the right word; the wooden doll is, so to say, the central figure in
this mysterious problem; let us, therefore, follow its track.  First,
then, the doll was sent to Dreyel from America.  Secondly, it worried
him as though he expected something unpleasant to follow.  Thirdly, in a
telegram from ’E.R.’ he was admonished to keep a watchful eye upon the
doll since Toroni had learnt the secrets.  Fourthly, before ’E.R.’ could
have a personal interview with Dreyel, he was murdered by some one who
stole the wooden doll.  One can’t overlook the importance of the odd
little figure.  Tell me, did you ever have it in your hands?"

Tom nodded.  "Yes, the very first time Dreyel showed it to me."

"Was it hollow inside?"

"No, it was absolutely solid wood throughout."

"Was there nothing to unscrew?"

"No, certainly not."

Rather disconcerted, Wallion said: "And wasn’t there a mark of any
kind?"

Tom sat up.  "Well, now that you have mentioned it, I do recollect
having noticed some figures cut in the wood on the sole of one of the
feet."

"Aha!" exclaimed Wallion.

"Wait a minute, I’ve got it, I remember quite well what they looked
like."

Tom drew a piece of paper towards him and proceeded to draw what was
meant to represent the outline of the sole of a foot, in the middle of
which he drew the following figures:

    No. 12
    −−−−−−
      33"


Wallion inspected this sketch with a frown and gave a low whistle.  "So,
..." he said, "our materials are accumulating, but we are not much the
wiser for all that....

"Did No. 12 apply to the wooden figure or was it meant to indicate that
something was camouflaged as No. 12?  Dreyel always spoke of Toroni as
the thirteenth.  That almost seems to tally, the wooden doll No. 12 and
Toroni 13 ... but let us proceed warily with our theories for the
present.  Now what about the other figures?  They may mean 33 inches or
33 minutes, or they may belong to some private code."

As Tom was about to make some impetuous remark, Wallion raised a
deprecating hand, saying:

"Beware of obstacles, Tom; if we begin with mere suppositions we shall
soon run our heads against a wall, perhaps we had better let the girl
tell her story first."

Just then a car drew up at the door.  Wallion listened and rose from his
chair.

"Auxiliary troops, Tom," he said, smiling ... "Mrs. Toby to the fore."

He went out, and a few minutes later reappeared with a stout, elderly
woman, dressed in black, with white hair; her still, comely countenance
and regular features bore a stamp of strength and quiet content.

"I quite understand," she said to Wallion, who had probably already
given her instructions. "I’ll do what I can."  Her kindly eyes rested
upon Tom, and she curtsied; that was all the introduction.  Then they
all went into the smoke-room.

The girl had not stirred.  Wallion pointed towards the white figure and
said: "There’s your patient, Mrs. Toby."

The old dame was already bending over the couch, and her deft fingers at
once rearranged the cushion and the girl’s clothes, which had got
untidy.  In a gentle, motherly way she crooned over her: "Such a poor
little bird! Would any one believe that two big, stupid men hadn’t even
the sense to relieve her of her hat!"

The two men, like awkward schoolboys, stood and heard her remarks in
silence; she removed the girl’s small hat and handed it to Tom. "Now
then, go and hang it up," she said, seeing the young man standing
irresolute with his hands full.  Having examined the bandage and felt
the girl’s pulse, she said: "The child is feverish.  Please bring in my
luggage, Mr. Wallion, and you, Mr. Murner, make haste and put a
saucepanful of water on the gas-stove to boil."

She looked round and went into the bedroom, where she at once made
herself at home.  She took clean sheets out of a cupboard, and at one
fell swoop turned out Murner’s dressing-gown, slippers, smoking-jacket
and shaving tools—in fact all his personal belongings—which she
deposited in the smoke-room.

"I ought really to turn you out also, but I’ll let you stay," she said,
laughing, but hustling him out of the apartment.  "I am mistress here
now."

Tom ventured to say: "Can’t I help you?"

"Rubbish!" answered Mrs. Toby, as she lifted the girl from the couch and
carried her into the bedroom, shutting the door after her.

Wallion had settled himself comfortably in the study, and with an amused
smile he said to Tom: "Mind you don’t get in Mrs. Toby’s way, she was
born to rule."

They had a good smoke, and could hear at intervals sounds of Mrs. Toby’s
industry and energy.

"There’s one thing that perplexes me," presently said Wallion, "to judge
from appearances the girl must have come up from Gothenburg by the
morning train; but people don’t generally travel without luggage or with
empty hands."

Tom smote his forehead with his hand.

"Good Heavens!" he cried, "her satchel!" he drew the black satchel from
the papers under which he had concealed it.

Wallion nodded approval, and said complacently:

"That may help to clear up a lot."

The little bag had only the ordinary fastening; seeing Tom hesitate,
Wallion took it from him and forthwith emptied the contents on the
table.  A lace handkerchief, a small silver purse containing Swedish
money, various "vanity" articles, and lastly a hundred-dollar note,
nothing more.

"Is that all?" asked Tom, when Wallion had finished; but with a
curiously absent manner the journalist once more examined the satchel.

"No, that is not all," he said at last, hurriedly taking out another
object and setting it on the table, "there is that."

"The wooden doll," ejaculated Tom, and a cold wave seemed to pass over
him; vague but horrible thoughts floated through his brain. He saw
before him a figure carved in hard, brown wood, eight inches high,
representing a man in slouch hat, sweater, cartridge belt and high
lace-up boots; but on more minute inspection he breathed a sigh of
relief, the little figure bore a distinct resemblance to the one which
had stood on Dreyel’s shelf, but it was not the same.

"This is another," he said, taking it up; "but I say, I do believe ...
it is an exact likeness of Victor Dreyel."

This discovery completed his consternation; the brown face was an exact
representation of the murdered man, to his most characteristic and
peculiar features.  He looked at the sole of the doll’s feet and there
found an incised mark, No. 5 ... Nothing more.

"Look here," he said, "this one also bears a number."

Wallion took and silently examined it, whilst Tom’s whole body quivered
with excitement.

"What do you think it means?" he asked eagerly.  "This is the third time
we have come up against a number; it is very odd, but on the other doll
there was in addition the number ’33’ ... Why not the same on this one?
What do you make of it?"

Wallion said nothing, but his eyes grew bright; he smiled, took out and
lighted a cigar; then he once more searched every corner of the satchel
with renewed interest, till he came upon a pocket in the lining, whence
he extracted a small note-book bound in leather.  It contained only a
few leaves, on the first of which the friends noticed two addresses,
written in small, dainty characters: Victor Dreyel, 30, John Street,
Stockholm ... and Christian Dreyel, Captain Street, Borne.  There was
nothing else written in the book, but four or five visiting cards fell
out, each one bearing the same name: "Elaine Robertson."  The two men
looked at one another.

Wallion said: "’E.R.’!  At any rate the question of that name is settled
now."

At this juncture Mrs. Toby, hot from her work, came in with the
tea-tray.  "There," she said in a motherly tone, "I thought you
gentlemen might be glad of a little refreshment; the young lady is
asleep, but the fever seems inclined to be obstinate; she has been
talking a rare lot of nonsense about a doll, and what it’s all about I’m
sure I don’t know, but she never said what her name was."

"Her name is Elaine Robertson," replied Wallion, "and early in the
morning I shall call in a doctor."



                              *CHAPTER V*

                           *THE OTHER DREYEL*


When Mrs. Toby had left the room Wallion said: "Did you know that there
were two men named Dreyel?"

Tom shook his head.

"I never heard Christian Dreyel mentioned, maybe he is a brother.  I
don’t know."

The young man’s voice sounded listless and tired; the existing
complication seemed too much for him, his brain was in a whirl; he only
longed to get away from it all and go to sleep. With a prolonged yawn,
thrusting his hands into his pockets, he said:

"Perhaps we had better send a telegram to the other Dreyel; he is,
naturally, the person most nearly concerned....  Hallo! what’s this?"
He broke off suddenly and from his pocket he drew forth a gray glove and
a crumpled piece of paper.

"Look here, Wallion, here’s a letter I found on Dreyel’s table."

Wallion took the letter and began to read it, lifting his eyebrows.
"This is prime stuff, of the first order," he said, "a letter from
Victor Dreyel to Christian Dreyel...."

He read the epistle out loud: "Dear Christian," it began.  "You are
quite right, miracles do not happen now-a-days but justice may prevail
in the end.  The wooden dolls were only the beginning, a caution, a
warning.  To-day I got a telegram which I enclose.  Who is it from? I
don’t know whether it is true that Toroni is still alive, but if he is,
strange things are likely to happen.  They are all gone ... all, that
crazy Craig Russel, Sanderson, the black Colonel, all gone.  All, save
William Robertson, myself and you, and the mystery of King Solomon is
not solved.  Fifteen years have I been living in this somber and quiet
corner; perhaps it was my time of probation all along.  They say
likenesses of the dead bring misfortune to the living. After all those
years it was a curious gift to you and me; and whatever may happen
to-night, I shall not give in without a struggle..."

Wallion stopped.  "It is not finished," he said, "Death stepped in
between."

"King Solomon’s secret," repeated Tom. "Secret indeed ... What a
loathsome word! And what has Elaine Robertson to do with King Solomon’s
affairs?"

Wallion looked at the wooden doll and said:

"Your inquiry is premature ... we are still in the dark.  The secret has
acquired a name, that is all ... ’King Solomon’; and ’King Solomon’ may
stand for a place, a nickname, or for anything you like.  You should
rather ask what connection there can be between ’E.R.’ and William
Robertson?  Well, to begin with both are alive at present, whereas
another lot of persons, who evidently also had something to do with
’King Solomon’ are dead; among the latter are ’that crazy Craig Russel,
Sanderson and the black Colonel,’ and several others, whatever sort of
folk they may have been.  These, as well as Robertson and the two
Dreyels, were in the secret for more than fifteen years, until a third
party, by the name of Toroni, stepped in and discovered it, which
threatened evil consequences.  Toroni’s informants were known and the
bare mention of his name was enough to terrify Victor Dreyel: in short,
Toroni was the villain of the piece.  Again, only William Robertson and
the two Dreyels being alive, it is plain that ’E.R.’ must have been sent
by Robertson to warn the others; the wooden dolls also ... mystic
emblems ... must have come from Robertson!  Must, did I say?  We are
pursuing wild conjectures, and here am I sitting and only making rough
guesses."

"But you are right," said Tom, struck by Wallion’s words.  "It must be
as you say, you have already brought the problem within measurable
distance..."

"Have I?" said Wallion, laughing.  "Yes, I have confined it to the
obscurity of fifteen years, and located it in the continent of America
... a child might have done that much.  No, no, my lad, it won’t do to
make any deductions from those infernal wooden dolls.  They are
irrational objects and before we get at the reason of their existence we
may have to cast our present theories to the winds."

"Yes, but I suppose you have formed some point of view..."

"Three points of view, my friend.  First, that this is the most glorious
problem it has ever been my luck to handle.  Secondly, that I can’t
understand it at all.  And thirdly, that I want to go to sleep now."

He drew up a chair, stretched his legs upon it, leant his head against
the back and was fast asleep in a few minutes.  The rain continued to
come down in torrents, flooding the gutters. The clock struck eleven.
Battalions of wooden dolls marched past and cast evil glances at Tom.
Their small, polished, sphinxlike faces glowed in the darkness like live
sparks and voices from thousands of throats came through the shadows,
crying: "We are the riddle, the mystery of King Solomon is ours." ...
Then he seemed to hear sounds of weeping and felt a warm, soft little
hand in his.  "It is not true," he heard a girl whisper....  "I have
killed no one, but I am so lonely ... no one will help me ..."  Tom was
just going to reply, but Elaine fled away through black clouds, and then
he heard stealthy footsteps ...

Tom Murner jumped up confused and benumbed with cold.  He had spent the
night on the hard couch in his study, and the recollection of his
horrible nightmare affected his nerves. In a moment everything which had
occurred since yesterday afternoon unrolled itself like a film before
his mind’s eye; he put his hands up to his aching head and shivered with
apprehension. Victor Dreyel’s dreadful end, the girl hidden in his
bedroom, the fiendish wooden doll still standing on his writing-table,
everything passed before his mental vision.  He looked round and stared
at the designs for his "Terrace" houses as if he had never seen them
before; something was different, but it was nothing tangible or outside
... the change was within his own soul.  From a world of books and
dreams he had all at once been flung into a life of adventure.  Fate had
decided and the great comedy which is enacted but once in a lifetime had
begun.  A small, pleading voice whispered in his brain: "Nonsense, such
a thing could not happen.  She may be innocent or she may not. See that
she gets away from here as soon as possible, and see that you have
nothing to do with her."  The conflict in his mind began anew; he
marvelled at the clearness with which he remembered every act, every
word, yes, every gesture of hers.  He jumped up and stretched his limbs.
The ghostly monitor persisted: "Don’t meddle with what you don’t
understand. Don’t meddle with..."  "Well, and what then?" he reflected,
"is one ever justified in refusing to help another?"

He threw up the window and drew a deep breath, there were still clouds
about, but the air was clear and fresh.  Presently he heard the sound of
voices proceeding from the smoke-room; Wallion and Mrs. Toby were
talking and the name Elaine Robertson caught his ear. The journalist
soon came out, walked into the study and closed the door after him; he
looked very serious.

"I see you are awake, good!" he remarked drily; "There’s much to be
done.  With Aspeland’s assistance I have already gone through Dreyel’s
papers.  Christian turns out to be a cousin of his; other relatives
there are none; as for the rest of his papers there was nothing in them
worth consideration."

Wallion then took up the wooden doll and put it in his pocket.  "I am
going to take that with me now, and for the present you mustn’t say
anything about it.  The Chief Detective will probably call here, so mind
you don’t forget that you are on the sick-list.  You are at liberty to
say all you know, but nothing in any way relating to ’E.R.’  Mrs. Toby
has had her instructions."

"All right, but how is...?"

"The little lady?  She is very feverish from her wound, but you need not
be alarmed; the doctor will be here before long, ostensibly to see you
... hallo!  Who’s coming now...?"

There was a ring at the door and Superintendent Aspeland was admitted.
He was accompanied by Detective Ferlin, and both men looked excited.

"Gone, without leaving the slightest trace behind him," Aspeland said,
turning to Wallion. "Since the miscreant got out of the house he has
disappeared from human ken like a ’U’ boat."

"And is as great a danger," added Ferlin. "In my opinion that man is the
greatest menace we have ever come across.  But we must not forget the
girl; she must have something to tell."

Detective Ferlin was short of stature, grave and alert, somewhat
excitable and fidgetty, inclined to be a little bumptious, but clever
and shrewd beyond the average.  Aspeland tugged at his moustache and
looked at his colleague sideways.

"Ferlin," he said, in an amicable tone, "I posted you and Rankel at the
door, but both the assassin and the girl seem to have neglected to make
your acquaintance.  Have you any advice to give?"

Ferlin turned crimson to the roots of his hair, gazed for a moment at
Tom and said: "Mr. Murner, will you give me an answer on one point?"

Tom grew as rigid as if ice were sliding down his spine, but he replied
calmly: "Yes, of course, what is it you want to know?"

"Mr. Murner, you came out into the hall precisely at the moment the girl
came rushing down the stairs.  Did you not see her?"

"If you wish it I can affirm on oath that I never saw a shimmer of her,"
replied Tom, truthfully, and he could not refrain from laughing at
something which only Wallion knew. Ferlin glowered at him with an ironic
smile.

"Excuse me," continued Tom, "my laughing arose purely from nervousness
... You will understand."

"I understand," grunted the little man.

"This is no child’s play, Mr. Murner, so you had better be careful....
The girl may be out of reach—we must just see.  I, for one, shall keep
my eyes open, though they mayn’t be so fine as her own."

"By Jove! what a talker you are," remarked Aspeland.  "Now, Mr. Wallion,
Ferlin and I must have a little conversation about this Christian
Dreyel, and be ready to answer a heap of questions when the Head of the
Department arrives on the scene ... Good-by till then."

Ferlin and he went out together, and soon after sounds of people busy at
work overhead became audible.

Wallion grew impatient and began to pace the room.

"What time is it?" he growled.  "Half-past eight?  Confound it all!
Tom, before night I have to be at the other Dreyel’s.  I have no time
for arguing.  No, I don’t want your company; it would only drag you
deeper into the mire and I believe Ferlin is already thinking of
arresting you...."

"What?  Me...?"

"Yes, just you.  We shall hear what the Chief Detective will have to say
to the only intimate friend Dreyel had ... If they knew that the
girl..."

He lifted both hands, and they exchanged glances.

"Wallion," resumed Tom in a low voice, "I have made up my mind, I mean
to do all I can to help Miss Robertson, but I won’t abuse your
friendship if you are not inclined for a game of Hide and Seek with the
police or the law."

Wallion’s eyes sparkled—his expression was comical.

"You are talking like an idiot; who said anything about the law?  And as
to circumventing the police, I should soon put a stop to that. What are
you making such a fuss about?  Can’t the girl remain quietly where she
is?"

"Yes ... but..."

"No buts ... There’s the doctor."

Wallion himself went to the door and a middle-aged man with a jovial,
ruddy countenance walked in, and was introduced by Wallion as the
"Doctor"—no name being mentioned. He seemed to be acquainted with the
facts of the case, and with a formal bow to Tom, he came further into
the room.  Presently Mrs. Toby appeared at the door and beckoned to
Wallion to come out ... Seeing Tom about to follow she shook her head.
"I don’t want a procession," she said crossly, and slammed the door.

Wallion went into the bedroom where he found the doctor standing by the
window and writing a prescription.  Without turning round the latter
said: "Mr. Wallion, I shall keep a quiet tongue about what I have seen,
but one thing I feel bound to tell you.  The girl is a physical wreck.
The wound is nothing.  Make her take this now, Mrs. Toby, and again
to-night, and by to-morrow the fever will be gone. What she wants is
good nursing, and above all no excitement ... She has already gone
through more than such a delicate constitution as hers can stand.  She
appears to have no means, and is half-starved and thoroughly worn out."

Wallion threw a hasty glance at Mrs. Toby who, accustomed to give her
opinion, said without any preamble: "Starved she is not, but that she
has not got any money is true.  Her clothes are of the best stuff, and
though threadbare, made by a first-class tailor.  Her hands show no
traces of hard work.  She is undoubtedly a girl of good social standing.
Last night when her mind was wandering, she kept calling for ’Father,’
sometimes in English, sometimes in Swedish, poor little lamb."

"Did she say anything else?"

"Yes, she raved about dolls, and frequently mentioned the name of
Toroni."

Wallion nodded his head and was soon lost in thought.  He took a long
look at the sleeping girl with her white face and little black curls.
Her gentle, regular breathing pleased him particularly as seeming, more
than anything else, to prove her feeling of perfect confidence in her
strange surroundings, and as he looked at her more closely he noticed
the look of almost child-like peace on her wan, refined features.  It
struck him the more when he remembered how he had last seen her with
eyes wide open, a prey to the world’s cruelty and wickedness.  He turned
away sadly.

"I have a great mind to try an experiment, Doctor," he said, "if you
will give me leave."

"As long as you don’t frighten her," he answered, coming nearer to the
couch.  "She still has a temperature, and her mind wanders at times."

Wallion bent over the sleeper.  Half aloud he uttered the name "Toroni";
her breath came a little faster and she frowned slightly.  He repeated
the name once more.  In a clear, child-like voice she said: "Yes, oh yes
... No. 13 Toroni ... Number six and number twelve ... Take care ...
They are coming ... Father ... Papa, papa..."

Wallion straightened himself and looked at the doctor.  His eyes
betrayed an inclination to laugh though he was sorely perplexed; after a
while he said: "Do you think she is wandering now, doctor?"

The doctor shook his head.  "No, she is not wandering now, she is
talking in her sleep."

"Dreaming?"

"No, the name you mentioned awoke subconscious memories and pictures."
The doctor took Wallion by the arm and led him into the study.

"Leave her in peace now," he said.  "Mrs. Toby is an excellent nurse,
and unless anything particular happens I need not call again. Good-by."

Tom heaped question after question upon Wallion who recounted what had
taken place. "She is all right," he added feelingly, "all right, Tom, I
would take off my hat to any girl without friends and without means who
could take such a load upon her shoulders."

Tom shook his friend’s hand warmly.

"There are cases in which it is expedient to trust a little in one’s
intuition," continued Wallion thoughtfully, "at least until one has made
all due investigations ... Have you a timetable handy?  Thanks.  Where
is Borne?  Oh, Borne seems to be one of the stations north of Gävle.
Now listen, Tom, if Victor Dreyel had in his possession a wooden doll
which it was worth while committing murder for, might not Christian
Dreyel be in possession of one like it? May he not also have one of
those ’likenesses’ of the ’dead’ which bring misfortune to the ’living’?
Do you remember the unfinished letter and that the unseen culprit is
still at liberty.  Well, I intend to go to Borne, or perhaps..."

Again there was a ring at the door.

"Your doorbell has started business," grumbled the impatient Wallion, as
he went out into the hall.

"Next man, please," he said.  It turned out to be Aspeland.

"The Chief isn’t coming," he said.  "He is busy sending out scouts after
the assassin and the young lady that porter saw—only in his dreams, I do
believe—so you won’t be bothered any more.  I’m off now, but if anything
happens Ferlin will be close at hand."

He went and Wallion whistled softly to himself.

"It rather seems as if they had their hands full," he remarked.  "So
much the better, it gives us another day’s breathing time.  You keep mum
here, obey Mrs. Toby, and don’t think too much about the little girl.
Now, I am going to look after some affairs of my own in case the
business in hand should drag on much longer, then I shall go up to
Borne.  Au revoir, we shall meet to-morrow."


It was already dusk when the "Problem Solver" arrived at Borne.

Some Gävle newspaper reporters who had spotted him in the train, had
made interesting attempts to discover the object of his journey, but
Maurice Wallion was not inclined for company.  All his thoughts were
concentrated upon the mystery of the wooden dolls, on the foolish yet
tragic row of wooden images which seemed one by one to peer at him
through the darkness. One of them had found its way over Victor Dreyel’s
body into the pocket of the vanished enemy, another he had in his own
... would a third be found at Christian Dreyel’s?  If so, might not the
assassin, too, be on his way there? Step by step he had been through
every compartment of the train without finding any one whom it would be
worth while suspecting.  Maurice Wallion was decidedly growing uneasy, a
most unusual and unaccountable proceeding on his part.  He felt that he
had not got a sure or firm grasp of the case.  Was another catastrophe
about to happen? ... Was he again coming too late?  With quick steps he
walked through the little village; he had been told at the station that
Captain Street was half-an-hour’s walk from there, but he stepped out so
briskly that twenty minutes found him at the door of a low, lonely,
dilapidated building, which answered to the description given him.  He
opened, or rather lifted the rickety gate and ran up through the garden,
which was overgrown with rank grass, among gnarled fruit trees.  A
couple of rooks, croaking dismally, flew down from the roof, but there
was no one to be seen.  Wallion knocked loudly at the door.



                              *CHAPTER VI*

                   *THE TRACK OF THE "INVISIBLE" ONE*


After waiting a few minutes, Wallion heard footsteps approaching and the
door opened. A tall man with a stoop, of coarse, ungainly build, about
fifty years of age, stood before him. The individual in question had
long, thick dark hair and an unkempt beard, but there was an
indisputable resemblance to Victor Dreyel. Wallion raised his hat and
said: "Mr. Christian Dreyel, I presume?"  The man looked at him with
undisguised curiosity.

"My name is Wallion and I am the bearer of a letter from your cousin."

"The door was open," he said in a deep bass voice.  "You need not have
knocked.  Come in, Mr. Wallion."

"With your leave," said Wallion, "but I thought doors were meant to be
shut."  With which sarcastic remark he closed it after him.

Dreyel frowned and said: "Where is the letter?"

They entered a simple but comfortably furnished room, lighted by the
dazzling golden rays of the setting sun.

Wallion took the letter Murner had found on the dead man’s table from
his pocket and silently handed it to Christian Dreyel.  The latter
stopped in the middle of reading it and observed: "He says he was
enclosing a telegram. Where is it?"

"I can repeat it to you from memory," said Wallion evasively, at the
same time doing so. The man nodded and continued to read.

"The letter isn’t finished," he said, and his face began to twitch
nervously with evident emotion.

"Tell me everything, quick, I am not nervous. What have you come here
for?"

"Then you have not read the papers nor heard any news from Stockholm?"

"No."

"It is ill news that I bring, Mr. Dreyel. Your cousin was murdered in
his studio last night by an unknown individual who has escaped.  He left
no papers, except this letter, which could throw light upon the tragedy.
The telegram mentioned is in the hands of the police."

Christian Dreyel had gone to the window, through which he gazed in
silence.  A long pause ensued; at last he said:

"Are you from the police, Mr. Wallion, or not?"

"No," replied the journalist, "I came here to show you this," taking the
wooden doll from his pocket and placing it on the table.

Christian turned in his chair, crossed his arms and examined the small
wooden image without touching it or uttering a word.  After a time he
remarked: "Where did you get that?"

Wallion answered: "Allow me a question first.  Do you happen to know
’E.R.’?"

At the mention of the initials Christian Dreyel made a movement of
surprise, leant forward and said; "’E.R.’ a woman ... what age?"

"About twenty."

"I don’t understand," murmured Christian Dreyel, sinking back in his
chair.  "Only twenty, you say ... then she can’t ... Elaine? What has
she to do with the wooden dolls?"

"I got that doll from her.  You see it has the features of your cousin
Victor Dreyel and Elaine Robertson was in the studio at the time of his
death."

"And the other one which was my cousin’s own property?"

"The assassin stole that."

Christian Dreyel bent his head.  Nothing seemed to surprise him.
Wallion looked into the man’s deep-set eyes.  They were burning and
Wallion guessed that Christian Dreyel was making a supreme effort not to
exhibit an atom of feeling before a stranger.  But as Wallion did not
open his mouth, he said in the same calm tone as before: "Won’t you tell
me ... all?"

Darkness was gathering in the corners of the room and the golden light
of the western sun had resolved itself into a narrow glowing band.
Wallion began his story and Christian Dreyel listened in silence.  When
it was finished the two men could no longer distinguish each other’s
faces; the sky was covered with clouds of a bluish gray, the woods rose
black and grim round Captain Street, and all was as silent as the
desert.  When at last Christian Dreyel spoke, Wallion was startled; he
could scarcely recognize the voice.

"You seem to attach great importance to the wooden dolls, Mr. Wallion,"
he said in a hoarse tone.

"I do," answered Wallion; "and I believe the reason is pretty evident,
’likeness’ of the ’dead’ bring misfortune upon the ’living’ ..."

Christian got up to light an oil lamp, and Wallion saw how the man’s
hand shook.  He put the lamp on the table and gazed vacantly into space.
His face looked ten years older but it had lost some of its hardness,
and his emotion evidently overpowered him for he said gently:

"Thank you for coming.  My poor cousin and I had not much in common, but
he was my only relative.  And now..." he broke off ... "you want to hear
the truth, I know.  Honestly, and without any ulterior motive: I would
say to you, have nothing to do with the King Solomon mystery; let it be.
It is hopeless to dig up the past, and evil often follows."

"My good Dreyel, it seems to me the digging process has begun already
... you forget No. 13 Toroni."

A curious expression came into Dreyel’s eyes.

"With all your cleverness, sir, I believe you underrate the extent of
the mystery," he replied.  "Toroni, well, he really was the thirteenth,
but I am not superstitious.  Toroni has been dead more than fifteen
years."

"Dead, you say?  That is not possible; the telegram sent by Elaine
Robertson distinctly says that Toroni has got to know the secret."

"Who is Elaine Robertson?" inquired Dreyel. "She may be William
Robertson’s daughter, what of it?  What is her object?  Perhaps you
think I know everything," he went on, "yet you must have noticed how
little my cousin knew—how he worried himself with vague presentiments
and uncertain hopes.  Ah, well, I know as little, maybe even less."

"Do you really mean what you say?" asked the journalist.  "Please
forgive me, I do not doubt your word.  But Victor Dreyel’s
presentiments, which you call vague, turned out to be well founded.  He
is dead, but the same danger threatens you."

"The danger of being murdered, do you mean?  What for?"

"For being the owner of a wooden image of the same mysterious character
as the one owned by your cousin."

"Oh, you stick to that?"

"Of course.  Perhaps you doubt your cousin’s letter?"

Christian Dreyel hesitated for a few minutes, then he took out a bunch
of keys and opened an old-fashioned writing-table which stood behind
him.

"No, you are right," he said.  "Here it is."  And he set a dark, brown
wooden figure on the table beside the other one.  At first sight they
seemed as much alike as two tin soldiers, but Wallion detected a
difference; the one he had brought with him featured Victor Dreyel,
whereas this second one represented a thin, sinewy man, with small,
shifty eyes, a broad hook-nose, and a short goatee.

The journalist examined it closely, and on the sole of one foot he
found, as he expected the figures

    No. 6
    −−−−−
     29"

Christian Dreyel, who had been watching him, said with a laugh:

"Oh, yes, they are there sure enough, the figures are in their place.
I’ll save your making inquiries.  I got this thing in a parcel by post
at the same time my cousin got his.  The parcel came from Seattle in the
United States. There was no explanation with it, and I can’t make out
the meaning of the figure itself or what the numbers refer to.  I wrote
to Victor about it and we came to the conclusion that the riddle was
impossible to solve."

The honest ring of his voice left no room for doubt, and Wallion’s hopes
dwindled; his journey had been in vain; the key to the problem was
certainly not in Christian Dreyel’s hands.  Greatly disappointed he
pushed the dolls away from him and said:

"So you will not even venture a guess that these figures were sent by
William Robertson?"

Dreyel shrugged his shoulders.

"What’s the use of guessing? ... I can give you one hint though, the
expression ’likeness’ of the ’dead’ which my cousin used, is quite
correct.  The figure standing there is meant to represent a certain
Aaron Payter, the one my cousin had was meant, he affirmed; for one
Walter Randolph ... both Payter and Randolph died fifteen years ago ...
we had been schoolfellows..."

Wallion put his hands to his head in despair.

"I don’t follow you," he said.  "You say you don’t know anything, and
all the time I feel that I am on the verge of being enlightened. All
those names: William Robertson, Craig Russel, Sanderson, the black
Colonel, Payter, Randolph and Toroni ... the thirteenth.  Who are they?
You must know if you were at school together."

He went round to the other side of the table and suddenly taking Dreyel
by the shoulders, he said in a tone of annoyance:

"One thing, at least, you can tell me, what is the meaning of ’King
Solomon’?"

Dreyel gently but firmly shook himself free. "You are very insistent,
Mr. Wallion."

"It concerns more people than yourself."

"You want me to rake up the most terrible recollection of my life.  That
is asking rather a lot."

"But not too much; can’t you understand that I want to help you?  What
was it that happened fifteen years ago?"

Dreyel had withdrawn a little, but Wallion followed him.  "Quick,
there’s no time to lose. What was ..." he broke off, went up to the
table and blew out the light.  The room was pitch dark, the window only
looked like a pale gray square.  A slight rustle in the grass outside
had made itself heard, and a figure was dimly discernible running across
the garden at lightning speed.

"He has come," whispered Wallion.  "You were wrong to doubt.  Victor
Dreyel’s murderer is here now to fetch the other doll."

He adjusted his Browning and opened the window, but it was impossible to
distinguish anything among the trees.  He turned back into the room and
asked in a low voice: "Have you any servants here?"

"No."

"Are all the doors and windows shut and fastened?"

"Yes."

They listened for a few minutes.  Nothing could be heard but Christian
Dreyel’s deep breathing; the tension was beginning to affect Wallion’s
nerves.  He knew that he was not mistaken; the man who had murdered
Victor Dreyel, wounded Elaine Robertson, and slipped through the cordon
of police in 30, John Street, had come to complete his secret work on
the body of the other Dreyel.

The whites of Christian Dreyel’s eyes shone in the dark.  He had taken a
double-barrelled gun from the wall.  His powerful frame seemed to grow
larger, for the approach of danger seemed to have put new life into him.

"Do you see him?" he whispered.

"No," replied Wallion who, by this time, had jumped out of the window
and was standing in the high grass waiting.  "You stay there, I’ll go
after him."

The mysterious shadow had gone past the window from left to right and
Wallion carefully took the same direction.  Having gone about a dozen
steps he stopped to listen; the grass under his feet rustled like silk
and he thought he heard a similar rustle a little way off, near the
maple trees which sheltered the house on the north.  He strained his
eyes, but could distinguish nothing, and all was quiet again.  Then he
suddenly saw before him footprints in the still wet grass ... He started
... The shape of these footprints reminded him of the one he had seen on
the chair in Dreyel’s studio.  That the "Invisible One" had gone this
way there was no longer any doubt. The wild beast was near, prowling
after his prey, and following him up unalarmed by the hunter.  Maurice
Wallion crept close to the wall where the path was clear and sprang
noiselessly to the corner, half expecting a collision, but a cold shiver
ran down his back as he looked ahead; for on the north side of the house
there was a door evidently leading to the kitchen, and that door stood
wide open ... the ruffian had forced his way into the house. For a
moment Wallion was seized with desperate anger.  Perhaps the door had
not been properly locked.  What a mistake, what an unpardonable blunder!
He had a vision of Christian Dreyel alone in the room in the dark with
the two wooden figures waiting ... for what...?

Wallion uttered a shrill cry of warning and rushed through the open door
like a whirlwind. "Look out!" he screamed, "the assassin has got in!"

He ran along a short passage, opened a door and found himself in the
front hall.  On the right he noticed the door by which Christian Dreyel
had let him in.  He burst it open and rushed in with his Browning
cocked.  The window was still open and the curtains waved gently in the
breeze, but Christian Dreyel had disappeared!

"Where are you?" he cried.  There was no answer; but he thought he heard
a faint sound under the window; in three bounds he was there, and
stumbling over something soft he fell forward against the window frame.

A stooping, thin, nimble figure was running from tree to tree in the
garden and, without more ado, Wallion pulled the trigger and fired. The
apparition vanished.  He lighted a match and looked down on the ground.
He half expected what he saw, but could not repress an exclamation of
horror and pity at what the burning match revealed.  The object over
which he had stumbled proved to be Christian Dreyel’s right arm, the man
lay motionless on his back under the window, his double-barrelled gun a
short distance away.  When Wallion raised him up he saw a stream of
blood dyeing his shirt red on the left side and found a freely bleeding
wound immediately under the collar bone.  Dreyel opened his eyes and
looked vacantly round.

"The wooden doll," he whispered, "the shadow came up to the table, I saw
him ... he stabbed me..."

He pulled himself up into a sitting posture and laid his hands on his
breast; it was wet with blood.

"Who fired?" he asked quite confused.

"I did, but the fellow got away.  Be careful now, I will put on a
bandage and fetch the doctor."

"No, don’t ... look after the wooden doll first."  The wounded man
repeated the words over and over again: "The wooden doll ... the wooden
doll..."

Wallion took a cushion from the sofa and put it under Dreyel’s head;
then he closed the window, drew the curtains and casting one more
searching look out into the darkness, went back.  To pursue the murderer
without help would be worse than useless; he was probably already a long
way off.

It had all happened with lightning speed and as he relit the lamp
Wallion’s hands still trembled from the shock.  The chimney was still
warm.

He looked at the table where lately two wooden figures had stood.  There
was now only one—the doll belonging to Christian Dreyel was gone.
Wallion took up the one he had brought with him and examined it.  Victor
Dreyel’s image was uninjured; the criminal had passed it over as
worthless ... but why ... why...?

"The wooden doll," stammered the wounded man who had fallen back again
on the cushion.  "It is gone ... he has taken it...."

"Yes," answered Wallion with a great effort at restraint, "once more he
has had good luck; but try to be calm, the police will soon get hold of
him; you must think of yourself now and only rest."

He bent over the huge form and undid its garments; the blood streamed
from the gaping wound, and the laboured breathing showed that the lungs
had been touched.  Wallion stopped the bleeding with a towel dipped in
water, and put on a temporary bandage.

"Send for Doctor Moving," said Dreyel, groaning and twisting under
Wallion’s touch. "It does burn so ... The devil ... but it must be true
he knew that ... King Solomon’s secret..."

"I will fetch the doctor myself, lie still," said Wallion in a tone of
command.  He hurried out into the road on his way to the station, but a
few yards from the gate he met a barefooted boy of about ten, coming
along with a fishing-rod and a few fish.  Wallion took out a florin and
put it into the boy’s hand.

"Run along to Doctor Moving’s and ask him to come here, Captain Street,
at once," he said. "At once, do you understand?  Mr. Dreyel is ill."

The boy nodded his tousled head, looked at the coin and was off like a
shot.  Wallion went back to the house.  He was pale with excitement; his
nostrils quivered and his eyes burned. He was fuming over with what he
called his "clumsiness" but a hasty examination of the back door
reassured him in some degree, for two or three scratches round the lock
showed that it had been forced open by the intruder ... So it had been
locked, and so far there had been no negligence.  He lighted a cigar to
soothe his nerves, the tension of which had prevented his being able to
think clearly.  Through loss of blood the wounded man was sinking into a
kind of stupor, but when Wallion gave him a few drops of water he opened
his eyes and muttered:

"Now I understand everything ... I see clearly ... Robertson and Toroni
have been here ... King Solomon ... Oh, my God, and that after fifteen
years!"  He beat the air with his hands and cried with a deep, choking
voice: "I saw him as he lifted the knife ... I saw him ... I saw..."

"All right, but you must be quiet now."

"No, I will speak out.  He was greatly changed but I knew him again.  It
was Toroni."

"What?  You yourself told me he was dead."

"No, Toroni ... No, thirteen Toroni ... what a long way off you are ...
you don’t hear me."

It was tragic and pitiful to see the big, strong man exert the last of
his remaining strength in the effort to tell everything, for though the
delirium of fever gripped him inch by inch, his lips continued to move
and Wallion bent over him to catch his words, low as the beating of his
pulse.

"The numbers ... the numbers ... it is from Robertson ... you must help
... many will be grateful to you ... if you can find King Solomon, the
numbers ... take care ... I am falling ... take care, Toroni."

He stopped, but his eyes sought the other’s with an expression so
appealing, so helplessly pitiful that Wallion, deeply touched, pressed
his hand.

"I promise to do my best," he said.  "Don’t distress yourself any more,
everything will be all right."

Christian Dreyel smiled like a child and lay still.  He closed his eyes,
his muscles relaxed and he lost consciousness.

Out in the road the sound of cycle wheels became audible and some one
came in through the gate.  It was Doctor Moving, and Wallion met him
half-way.  The doctor was stout of build, getting gray, and had a
glowing cigar in his mouth.  A few words sufficed to acquaint him with
the nature of the case.  Without speaking he threw off his coat and
helped to carry the man into the bedroom.  There, with deft and
practised hands the doctor quickly got to work. Fifteen minutes later he
removed the cigar from his mouth and said:

"The fellow has an iron constitution, he has lost a lot of blood, but
the wound is not very serious and he will live.  The top of one lung is
pierced, but it might have been worse.  Have you a match?"

"How long will it take him to recover?" said Wallion.

"Well, well, you seem in a hurry," growled the doctor, relighting his
cigar.  "For the next few weeks he must neither move nor talk, then we
shall see.  A stab with a knife dealt by such a fiendish expert does not
heal at once; but leave him to me, I’ll take him under my charge ... You
look after the man who dealt the blow."

Wallion shook hands with the doctor, gave one more look at Christian
Dreyel’s white face and then went away; but he did not forget to put the
wooden doll into his pocket.  Twenty minutes later he despatched the
following telegram to the Chief Detective in Stockholm:


    "This evening Victor Dreyel’s murderer attacked Christian
    Dreyel.  Badly wounded. Similar wooden figure stolen.  Local
    police informed.  Police dogs needed.—Wallion."


For many years Maurice Wallion had been in possession of a police pass,
which was of immense use to him now.  Within an hour a thorough,
systematic search of the environs had been organized, telephones were
working with feverish haste, and the train service at Borne and the
surrounding stations put under the strictest surveillance.  The
following answer from Stockholm reached Wallion at 10:30 A.M.:


    "Police dog last train from Gävle.  Sustain search thoroughly.
    Aspeland arriving to-morrow."


At midnight a detective from Gävle arrived with a police dog which was
led to the marks of the footsteps under the window in Captain Street,
and after a short delay took up the scent through the garden.  Wallion,
the sergeant and detective followed, greatly excited.  The dog led them
straight through the wood for two miles or more to a high road where he
stopped abruptly.  He had lost the scent and nothing would induce him to
go on.  Not far off was a farm and the inmates were called up, but none
of them could remember having seen a stranger on the road, although
various farm-hands had driven past at quite a late hour.  This
information inspired the three men with serious misgivings ... The
murderer had probably continued his flight concealed in one of those
waggons and was, most likely, miles away by this time.  The detective
from Gävle looked at Wallion and remarked: "I wonder whether an accurate
description would not be of rather more use than the dog under present
circumstances. Shadow, last seen in a garden, etc., is, anyway, a
somewhat dubious clue!"



                             *CHAPTER VII*

             *DOCTOR AUGUSTUS N. CORMAN INTRODUCES HIMSELF*


On the morning of the third of August, Aspeland, imbued with more than
his usual amount of energy, came rushing into Tom Murner’s apartments.

"Have you heard what has happened to Maurice Wallion?" he cried, whilst
still on the threshold.  "My goodness, he does manage to be on the spot
when wanted."  Aspeland then related what had taken place in Captain
Street on the previous evening, adding "The man is an out and out
scoundrel, bold and determined, it remains for us to see that he does
not escape our net this time."  Breathing hard the superintendent
twirled his mustache.

"The wretch may be back in Stockholm by now."

"No, he’ll try to get here, no doubt, but to-day, every train from the
north is being watched, and presently I shall be going myself to Gävle.
I’m almost sure he has got out of the country; we have no criminal of
that type here just now, for he’s an expert, he is.  Naturally, he would
try to get back with his booty on the first available opportunity.
Wooden doll, indeed!"  The superintendent shook his head.  "One man
killed and another badly wounded, and all for the sake of getting at a
couple of small wooden images.  It’s more than one can understand."

Aspeland gone, the house once more became as silent as the grave.

Tom Murner, thus doomed to solitude and idleness, was unable either to
read or work. The strange drama in which he was one of the actors nearly
drove him mad.  Who was this girl who had claimed his hospitality in
such an unaccountable manner?  How was the affair going to end?

Early in the afternoon a telegram arrived from Wallion, but it gave him
small comfort.


    "Can’t return before to-morrow.  Make inquiries after a certain
    person’s luggage.  If necessary provide other clothes.  Prepare
    for departure.—WALLION."


Tom called Mrs. Toby out of the bedroom and showed her the telegram.

"Yes, surely, that’s right enough," Mrs. Toby said in her usual quiet
but decisive tone.  "She must be got away to-morrow morning at latest,
and that can be managed all right.  She was awake a little while ago; it
seems she left a box of clothes at the Central Station—the receipt was
in the pocket of her jacket—and I have sent for it."

Mrs. Toby’s presence went a good way towards soothing Tom, she took
everything so naturally, with so much practical good sense, it made him
laugh.  He answered:

"You say that Miss Robertson woke up. Well, what did she say?"

"Nothing.  She looked round as if she didn’t quite know where she was,
and I noticed that she seemed rather frightened at not being able to
locate herself.  I comforted her, though she was for getting up and
going away at once, but she is terribly weak, poor little soul, and now
she has fallen asleep again."

"Can’t I see her and speak to her?"

Mrs. Toby shook her head, smiled, and returned to her patient.

                     *      *      *      *      *

During these days Tom Murner studied the papers with eagerness.  Every
time he opened one he did so with as much care as one would handle a
dead snake.  But in 1918 the press concerned itself chiefly with news of
the Great War, the latest sanguinary encounter, and it was only in a
mid-day edition of August the third that he came upon a short paragraph
reporting that the photographer, Victor Dreyel, had been "found dead in
his studio on the night of the day before yesterday, under circumstances
which pointed to robbery.  Examination by the police is proceeding."
Maurice Wallion’s own paper, the _Daily Courier_, was silent on the
subject, and when no further allusion was made to it on the fourth, Tom
began to suspect that the "Problem-Solver" had a hand in its
suppression.  It was a foregone conclusion that the affair would be kept
dark for a few days in order that Elaine Robertson’s hiding place should
not be discovered, which was also the reason why Wallion wished to
hasten her departure, for sooner or later the bomb was bound to explode.
It was not that Wallion’s conduct perplexed Murner; he knew the
journalist would never work in opposition to the police.  Had the search
for the girl in gray been totally abandoned?  Perhaps.

Deep in the morning paper of August the fourth, Tom pored long over the
problem without attaining any result.  The day had begun fine and sunny
and, unconsciously, his optimistic temper was in harmony with the
weather.  So far all had gone well.  If only Wallion would come.... Mrs.
Toby looked into the study with a smile and said, "I thought I heard you
whistle, sir."

"You did," he replied cheerfully.  "And how is our patient to-day?"

"I’ll go and see," she said, as she withdrew with even a broader smile.

After a short interval the door again opened and Tom cried over his
shoulder, "Well, how is she?"

"Very well, thank you," replied a soft, melodious voice.

Tom started and turned round; Elaine Robertson stood before him.  She
was dressed in a simple gown of black silk and her face, framed by her
black hair, was white and transparent as after a long illness.  She
looked at him gravely, in silence, and put out her hand.

"How can I thank you?" she said.

The blood rose to his cheeks, but he took her hand as a matter of
course, and said:

"So you made up your mind to come back to life," Then, after a brief
silence on both sides he continued.  "I hope Mrs. Toby..."

Then a faint color mantled the girl’s cheeks also; she sat down on a
chair and said:

"Mrs. Toby has told me everything, I myself cannot remember anything.  I
seem to have awakened from a bad dream."  An absent look came into her
dark eyes.  She sat silent for a while immersed in recollections which
made her features appear cold and hard; then she gave a little sigh,
raised her eyes and continued: "I can never repay such kindness, I can
only express my thanks to all, Mrs. Toby, yourself, and your friend whom
I have never seen."

"Maurice Wallion?  Oh, he is coming soon, but please don’t talk about
gratitude."

"Well, well, I don’t understand how you could ... why, you don’t even
know who I am."

"Was that necessary?"

She pointed to her arm, where a lump under the thin silk blouse revealed
the bandage.  "The man who gave me that wound ... he knew well enough
who I was," she said with a sorrowful smile that went to Tom’s heart.

"It proves that Victor Dreyel’s murderer was no friend of yours," he
answered.

"But you ... are you not afraid I might be an adventuress?" she said in
a scarcely audible voice.

They looked into each other’s eyes, but suddenly she averted her gaze
and bent her head.

"No," he answered, "I was never afraid of that."

She rose hurriedly.  "If you won’t let me express my thanks there is
nothing for me but to go," she said.

He wanted to speak, to beg her to tell him everything in strict
confidence; to offer her his help; but all he could manage was to say
very awkwardly: "Why?"

"I do not wish to add further to my obligation..."

"Why use that word?"

"Because I know so well that for all you have done, it is impossible
to..."  Here her voice failed her, she could only whisper: "Without your
help I should have been lost indeed!"

This time he dared not attempt a reply.  The position was embarrassing
for both, and both felt that it was too difficult for words.  Luckily,
Mrs. Toby appeared; she made a wry face when she saw them apparently so
quiet and miserable.

"When you’ve quite done thinking, both of you," she said, "your
breakfast is waiting in the smoke-room."  Her practical, humorous remark
saved the situation.  Tom laughed outright and the girl smiled.  Mrs.
Toby, too at breakfast, over which she presided, pressed them to eat,
and led the conversation with so much natural tact and ease as to banish
any awkwardness there might have been.  When the meal was over and she
left them, they continued their discourse, Tom occasionally stealing a
furtive glance at the girl.  The sun shone on her half-open lips; her
complexion was of a pallid, ivory hue, and for the first time he noticed
that her clear cut profile had the charm which Botticelli and
pre-Raphaelite painters loved to portray. The only ornament she wore was
a small, simple gold locket round her neck.  "Tell me," said Tom,
leaning forward, "how is it that you can speak Swedish and English
equally well?  At first I took you for an American."

"Why should you take me for an American?"

"Well, haven’t you just come from America? And somehow your name sounds
rather American."

She gazed at him with wide-open eyes and the characteristic little frown
appeared on her brow as if she were puzzled, but at last she said:

"My father is a Swede, my mother had Swedish blood in her, and Swedish
was the language I learnt first."

"Is your father still living?"

"Yes."

"And is his name William Robertson?"

Again she hesitated with her answer, but nodded assent.  She cast a
troubled look round as if she feared further questioning; then she took
off her locket, opened it, and passed it across to Tom.

"That is my father," she said shyly.

It was evidently the work of an amateur, and represented the
three-quarter face of an elderly, careworn man; two bright, deep-set
eyes shone under a lofty forehead; the hair was white and smooth, the
lips were firmly set and the expression of the mouth was as kindly as
that of the eyes, which spoke plainly of hopes crushed and a life
wasted.  Tom was greatly moved.  In the old man’s countenance were
depicted physical suffering and mental worry, yet he seemed to detect a
certain likeness to it in the girl by his side, the same melancholy
touch of resignation and the same spirit.  He reverently closed the
locket and gave it back to her ... he understood her trust in him.

"How he must have suffered!"

"He is not even fifty," she replied.

Tom made an involuntary gesture of surprise. The portrait represented
him as a man of nearly seventy, one who had turned his back upon life.

"Victor Dreyel was much older," he observed thoughtfully, "but he, too,
had that same expression of hopeless resignation."

"They were schoolfellows," said Elaine.  "My father..."  She stopped; it
seemed as if every attempt to speak out or to explain entailed an almost
superhuman effort, and as her mute appealing look was more than he could
bear, Tom sat down by her side and took her white, trembling hands in
his.

"Your father sent you here, did he not?" he said with emotion.  "We know
that your errand had some connection with those wooden dolls.  Victor
Dreyel is no more and, I daresay, Mrs. Toby has told you that his cousin
has been badly wounded."

Elaine gave a melancholy little nod.

"Both dolls have been stolen.  You must see that your errand is too hard
for you to accomplish singlehanded; won’t you trust yourself to us?"

As she made no answer he continued with some eagerness: "I am not
thinking of myself, but I want you to understand about Maurice Wallion
and who he is, the best helper you could have, if only you would confide
in him...."

"Mrs. Toby has told me about him," replied the girl in a low voice; "Oh,
yes, I owe a full explanation to you both ... I can’t do anything more
by myself."  She rose, and withdrawing her hands from his, she cried:

"If only your friend will help me."  The cry came from the depth of a
burdened heart.

Neither of them had heard the bell or the opening of the door, but at
that moment Mrs. Toby appeared and called Tom out.

Maurice Wallion, in traveling get-up, came forward smiling.  They shook
hands, and Tom’s eyes looked searchingly for news.

"I have come direct from Gävle," said Wallion. "Aspeland also returned
by the same train. We have had monstrous bad luck; the search has been
carried on day and night ... without result."

"Has he escaped again, then?" asked Tom.

"Yes, he wiggled out of the net like an eel, and you may believe me this
time we used tempting bait to catch our fish.  Did you get my wire?"
His angular features simply beamed with pent up energy, and he was
evidently much excited as he spoke.

Tom vouchsafing no answer, he resumed:

"Is our client ready to give information? She must get away from here
but if she can’t give a clear account of herself, the situation is, of
course, untenable.  One of the boys belonging to the evening paper hangs
on to Ferlin like his shadow.  Hallo!" he said, turning and bowing to
the girl.  "I am delighted to see you have returned from the land of
feverish dreams."

He took a chair and continued, "You know who I am, don’t you?  Well,
then you will understand that I have something to tell you, so don’t be
alarmed, and forgive me if I plunge into the thick of it at once ...
even the minutes are precious.  You cannot remain here, and before we
decide upon the next move you must tell us everything."

The girl sat stiff and pale.

"Everything?" she said, solemnly looking up at him.  Curiously enough
Wallion’s quick, energetic manner upset her much less than Tom’s more
gentle questioning.  In a steady voice she at once added:

"And if I refused to say anything?"

"About whom?" asked Wallion kindly.... "Are you referring to your
father?  In that case he ought to have come himself instead of exposing
you to such a dangerous adventure."

Elaine’s hand went up to the locket as if it needed protection.

"You don’t understand," she said.  "I simply had to go ... my father is
ill."

"Ill?"

"Yes, he is staying with a friend of ours, Doctor Corman."

"Where?"

"At his private Home, just outside Seattle."

Wallion started visibly and exchanged a quick glance with Tom.

"In a Home, you say.  Tell us more about it."

Elaine handed him the locket.  He looked closely at the photograph, and
she said in a broken voice:

"There you see my father, but you must not think ... you must not think
that his mind is affected ... he has broken down with grief and sorrow,
no one has gone through so much adversity, but he is not out of his
mind."

Wallion returned the locket but said nothing. She pressed it to her
bosom and repeated: "He has broken down, but he is not mad, he has been
injured by wicked people ... if I had not looked after him he would have
died ... Oh, it is only justice he wants and a clear explanation, an
explanation of the great, big secret."

She rose and walked to the window, and they saw her furtively drying her
eyes....  After a pause she said in a firmer tone:

"I am given to understand you did not hand me over to the police because
you wanted to give me an opportunity to explain first.  What I tell you
now I could not have said before those officials.  I came here with the
object of getting back from Victor and Christian Dreyel the two wooden
dolls given them by my father."

"My dear young lady," replied Wallion, surprised, "we have been aware of
that all along, and why wouldn’t you give this simple explanation before
the officials?"

"Because I am so afraid of those dolls."

"Afraid?"

"Yes, because I can’t make out what they are intended for," she said
almost inaudibly.

Maurice Wallion leapt from, his chair.  "You don’t know?  You?  You
don’t know the secret of those wooden figures for which men have risked
their lives and which have apparently vanished into space....  You don’t
know what the numbers mean, nor what ’King Solomon’ is supposed to stand
for?"

"No," she replied, and when Wallion, leaning over the table, looked
inquiringly into her eyes, she gently added: "I swear that I know
nothing."

Wallion stood motionless as if he had received a blow; he fumbled about
in his pockets for a cigar and growled: "Nobody seems to know
anything—it is inconceivable—neither Dreyel nor you ... and yet that
dread of the wooden dolls ... that unreasonable terror."  He took sundry
whiffs and then in an off hand manner he asked: "And who is Toroni?"

Elaine did not seem to have heard his question; she was leaning out of
the window, gazing down the street with wide open eyes.  Presently a
look of doubt and confusion cast a shadow over her face.  She drew back
hastily and walked into the room with uncertain steps, gave a shy glance
round and said in a totally altered tone: "Don’t ask me any more
questions, it is no use."

Wallion went to the window and saw an empty motor drawn up at the door;
he frowned savagely.

"What did you see?" he asked.

She replied in the same peculiar voice: "I must be going."  She spoke as
if she were dreaming and her gestures were those of a somnambulist.

"He has come to fetch me."

"He ... who?"

There was a ring at the door and the girl sank trembling into a chair.
Mrs. Toby came in with a visiting card in her hand which she gave to
Tom.  On it he read:

                       _Augustus N. Corman, M.D.
                            Seattle, U.S.A._


"Doctor Corman requests an interview with you, sir," she said.  "He is
in the study."  She cast a look he knew of old at Wallion and when he
was quite close to her, she said in a low voice which he alone could
hear: "I have seen him before, he went past the house both last night
and this morning and looked up at the window. He speaks English with an
American accent."

Wallion nodded and laid a finger on his lips as Tom was about to speak.
They both looked at the girl, who sat with her face buried in her hands;
she seemed more ashamed than alarmed at having been caught ... a child’s
mortification. Wallion smiled grimly.

"Come along," he said, going into the study with Tom.

A well-dressed man of middle stature, perfectly self-possessed and at
his ease, stood near the table, hat in hand.  He was apparently about
forty years of age, with a broad forehead and dark brown, wavy hair and
mustache, but the eyes behind the gold rimmed pince-nez were clear and
blue like billows of the sea, steadfast and piercing; he bowed slightly,
saying:

"Good morning, Mr. Murner," in a strong, full voice, as, ignoring
Wallion, he looked straight into Tom’s face.  The latter returned the
greeting with a stiff inclination of the head.

"Good morning, Doctor Corman," he said in English ... "This is my friend
and adviser, Mr. Wallion."

The Doctor bowed again with perceptibly heightened interest.

"To what do we owe the honor of a visit from you?" Tom said with an
effort.

The Doctor’s mustache concealed a faint smile of amusement.

"I have come to relieve you from a situation which is certainly as
embarrassing as it was unexpected, Mr. Murner."

His sonorous voice was calculated to break down any kind of opposition
and to negative any doubts, as a physician’s is wont to do in a sick
room.  Tom felt that the doctor knew all.

"I don’t quite understand," he said haltingly.

Doctor Corman waved his hat towards the smoking-room and said: "I have
come to take the little lady back to her father.  She has had adventures
enough.  The thing is settled."

"Speak a little more explicitly," he said.

The doctor removed his pince-nez and looked at him with his eyes
half-closed, as is the way of people afflicted with short sight.

"Any further explanation between us would be superfluous.  I have
ascertained that Elaine Robertson is here.  I am her guardian, appointed
as such by reason of her father’s dementia.  As such I tender you my
thanks for the shelter you have given her and I intend to take her away
immediately; my motor is waiting."

Wallion reflected for a while.  He gave Tom a meaning look, for here
undoubtedly was a step towards the solution of the problem.  In any case
the girl must go, for this aggressive and amazing doctor was certainly
in the right.

"So you affirm that her father is out of his mind?" he asked; "will you
not give us a little more information?"

"Do you know what ’Phantom-Mania’ is?" answered the doctor.  "Delusions
about mysteries which are non-existent ... a fear of pursuers who are
not there ... a love for sending messages and gifts which mean nothing.
Only the overwrought brain of a neurotic girl can give credence to
these.  The actions of a weak-minded man or the whims and fancies of a
nervous young woman ... both have a fictitious value."

"The death of Victor Dreyel, the stab in the girl’s arm, the attack in
Captain Street and the theft of the wooden dolls were not delusions."

"I am not concerned with what has occurred here.  Elaine accidentally
crossed the path of an unknown robber ... it is always the unexpected
which happens and such contingencies are from the devil."

"Is that all you have to say about it?"

"Yes, I know what I am talking about, Mr. Wallion, and I don’t allow
myself to be caught unawares.  I am here in the capacity of William
Robertson’s medical adviser and Elaine’s guardian, and I desire to see
her at once."  His tone had a touch of increased sharpness in it.

"One moment," said Wallion, "how did you get here?"

"That is very simple, as soon as Elaine started from Seattle on her
imaginary quest, her father grew anxious and in a lucid moment confessed
to me that he had acted on a delusion. I set off immediately to prevent
the girl from doing anything foolish.  My sister, Madame Nina Lorraine,
is with me to look after things. The whole affair is a farce, but likely
to end in a tragedy."

Wallion laughed and looked straight at the doctor.

"Do you know," he said, "why Miss Elaine is in hiding here?  Are you
aware that the police are looking for her?"

The doctor gave no answer.  The door of the smoking-room slowly opened
and Elaine stood on the threshold, pale and silent.

"What are you talking about?" she said in a monotonous tone.  "I am
here, take me home to father, Doctor Corman, I am so tired."

Corman took her hand with an air of triumph and speaking over her bowed
head he said: "There, you see, Mr. Wallion.  What are you going to do?"

Wallion replied: "I presume you and your sister are staying in some
hotel?"

"Yes, at the Grand Hotel."

"Miss Robertson is quite at liberty to go with you.  For the present any
further discussion is unnecessary, but what I said just now was meant as
a caution to you, doctor, and you shall hear from me before you leave."

"All right," said the doctor frigidly.

Five minutes later Elaine Robertson had left No. 30 John Street, in
Doctor Corman’s company.



                             *CHAPTER VIII*

                        *ONWARD TO THE UNKNOWN*


Tom was raving.  Everything had been done in such haste that his brain
was in a whirl when he tried to look back upon recent events. Elaine’s
cold and hurried "Good-by" stung him like a thousand pin-pricks, and the
doctor’s voice echoed fiendishly shrill in his ears.  Why had Wallion
given in so quickly?

The journalist did not stop to listen to Tom’s excited inquiries.  He
made some hurried notes in his pocket-book and departed. It seemed as if
he were pursuing some new train of thought.  Had he got weary of the
Elaine Robertson mystery after the unforeseen intermezzo?  Half-an-hour
later he sent the following telephone message: "Expect me at five
o’clock.  Tell Mrs. Toby to have dinner ready and inquire whether any
one saw the girl leave the house.  Further details later on."  Then he
rang off.

                     *      *      *      *      *

Shortly before five o’clock that same afternoon Wallion came to see Tom,
who was sitting in his room, lost in melancholy reflections.

"We have hurled the bomb," he said, throwing a bundle of newspapers on
the table, "but it has not exploded yet."

He proceeded to unfold the evening paper and pointed to a column
therein, headed:

              ASSASSINATION OF DREYEL.  AN ACT OF REVENGE.
               Christian Dreyel also attacked and robbed.
                Two Works of Art stolen.  Was it the act
                              of a madman?


"Now listen," said Wallion, laughing.  "My colleague of the evening
paper has been very energetic, the last paragraph is of most interest to
us," and he began to read:

"The unknown young lady who left Victor Dreyel’s studio at the time of
the murder has not made herself known; she is now said not to have been
implicated.  She may have been a casual customer come to fetch her
photographs, or an acquaintance of the murdered man’s, and on the
presumption that she found him lying dead it was only natural that she
should have declined to come forward as a witness, and her depositions
would not, anyhow, have been more reliable than those of the porter’s
wife.  It has been ascertained that the perpetrator was a man who set
about his dastardly work with unusual—one may say, incredible—brutality,
and the fact that his sole aim both in John Street and in Captain Street
was to get at a certain statuette, a bit of carved wood of little value,
proves that the scoundrel must have been a maniac, perhaps actuated by a
feeling of revenge towards the Dreyels, who during their long residence
abroad, etc., etc...."

"Well made up," said Wallion, stopping abruptly.  "A wonderful mixture
of truth and falsehood.  Special stress must be laid on the fact that
the girl in grey is done with, that she no longer counts.  The _Daily
Universal_ actually doubts the porter’s wife being in her right senses;
whereas the _Evening News_ exhorts the unknown lady in any case to come
forward and to affirm that she was out of it all!  The chief point at
present, however, is that, now the papers have taken it up, the girl in
grey has vanished like smoke.  I have just been to the Police Court and
seen Ferlin, who was as subdued and crestfallen as a whipped hound, for
he has been wild to catch her all the time. What would he have said if
he had been here and seen the doctor drive away with her in his car?
By-the-bye..." he looked inquiringly at Tom, who replied:

"No, no one noticed Miss Robertson going away.  She was dressed in
black, and even the porter’s wife had not curiosity enough to come up."

"Good," said Wallion, rather relieved.  He looked scrutinizingly at Tom
Murner’s downcast face and intuitively guessed what he was thinking of.

"Don’t look so glum," he said.  "I don’t deny that Doctor Corman cropped
up rather inopportunely, but I should never have dreamt of preventing
him.  All he said was perfectly clear and explanatory..."

"Explanatory?" said Tom, scornfully; "when he refused to give any
information, pooh-poohing everything as if it were a fable?"

"Just so, Doctor Corman is an interesting personality, perhaps more
interesting than you think.  I have heard sundry details, so listen to
what I am going to tell you.  Corman and his sister arrived late on the
evening of the first of August and went to the Grand.  Therefore he came
at the same time as Miss Elaine, whom he wanted to ’overtake’; they
travelled in the same train from Gothenburg and in all probability on
the same steamer from America.  Do you understand that?  During the
entire journey, therefore, he must have been more or less near her, but
he did not reveal his identity until to-day; and—what is even more
remarkable—he had not only bespoken rooms for himself and Madame
Lorraine, but for Miss Elaine Robertson as well."

"What is that you say?" interrupted Tom, half dazed; "I don’t take it
in.  Do you mean to imply that the doctor and the girl acted in
collusion?"

"Not at all.  At first I thought so, but that is very unlikely.  No, the
doctor kept at a distance to see what she was up to.  Wait a minute, I
can see what you are thinking about; no, old man, the doctor is not
identical with Victor Dreyel’s murderer or the marauder of Captain
Street.  The latter I saw with my own eyes and his build was quite
different; he was much shorter and thinner.  Besides, the doctor only
left the hotel for a few hours and could not possibly have been anywhere
north of Gävle, but he has very frequently been out here.  We must take
care not to confound him with the miscreant unless we have incontestable
proofs. So far he is immune.  Note that the girl seemed to trust him,
and was quite ready to go with him."

At this juncture Tom again burst out into vituperation.

Wallion listened unperturbed, but at last he spoke:

"Why did I let her go?  Because just when Corman turned up I recognized
the difficulty of our position; we were not justified in keeping her
here.  When the girl showed herself willing to go with him, the affair
was ’settled,’ as the doctor expressed it.  But it is not at an end
yet."

He sat down and seemed to be ruminating. After a while Tom heard him
mutter to himself: "Anyhow, he is most interesting as a representative
of a certain type."

"Who?  Doctor Corman?" interrogated Tom.

Wallion vouchsafed no reply; he had suddenly grown taciturn, sullen,
almost irritable, and soon after dinner he went out, taking Mrs. Toby
back with him as her services were no longer required at No. 30, John
Street.  Tom remained alone in the little dwelling which now seemed to
him gloomy and deserted, not to say haunted.

                     *      *      *      *      *

Next day came the long expected summons from the Chief Detective, which
he obeyed with considerable misgivings, but the Chief received him very
pleasantly, and the cross-examination was reduced to a few questions
regarding his connection with Victor Dreyel, though he was asked to
furnish a minute description of the famous wooden doll.

"Do you know Mr. Wallion?" the Chief finally inquired with a long,
searching look at Tom.

"Yes," the latter replied.  "It was through me that he came to take an
interest in this business."

"H—m!  It’s odd that he never published the results in the _Daily
Courier_.  Do you know whether he intends to continue his
investigations?"

"No," answered Tom, not without a touch of annoyance, for it was a
question he had been debating with himself all the morning.

"Well," said the Chief in a genial manner, "remember me to Mr. Wallion,
and tell him, if he hears news that might lead to important results we
shall be happy to coöperate with him."

When Tom reached home he found Wallion sitting in his study, with the
wooden doll on the table in front of him, and looking rather
disconcerted.  As Tom entered he said:

"Look here, we forgot this thing when we gave Miss Elaine back her
satchel, and she will know that we searched it."

Tom proposed that it should be sent to the Grand at once.

"It is too late, Doctor Corman and the two ladies have gone to
Gothenburg."

"What?  Already?"

"Yes, and they have booked their passages on the next boat to America
... it leaves on Thursday next week."

Tom could see that Wallion had something up his sleeve by the dry way in
which he spoke, and the suspicion caused him to look fixedly at his
friend.

Maurice Wallion sat still with his eyes half-closed, his hands in his
pockets.

"Maurice," asked Tom impatiently.  "What are you thinking about?"

"What did the Chief say?" was Walloon’s retort.

Tom repeated the conversation and gave his message.

Wallion laughed.  "Results?" he said.  "There is only one way to get any
’results’ in this affair."

"What might that be?" queried Tom.

Wallion opened his eyes very wide and said:

"It is to allow Elaine Robertson and Doctor Corman to continue their
journey unmolested."

"Back to Seattle?"

"Yes, and to follow in their track to the same place."

Tom clung to the arm of his chair for support; they looked at each other
in silence for some minutes.

"Since Doctor Corman took Elaine under the shelter of his wing, there is
only one place where this conundrum can be solved, and that place is a
certain private ’Home’ or asylum on the outskirts of Seattle."

"But what about the other ... the murderer?"

"Something tells me that the police will never capture him here, but
that he himself and the two dolls will be found at the journey’s end."

Wallion spoke with a sort of wistful longing. Tom could not refrain from
looking at him earnestly; he began to think he had but half-known his
friend so far.  A craving for action took possession of him also; and
when at last he grasped the portent of Wallion’s look the
"Problem-Solver" had come to a decision.

"At the end of the journey?" repeated Tom, in a voice which shook with
excitement ... "Are you going?"

"I promised Christian Dreyel I would do my best," replied Wallion.

The two men exchanged glances which furnished a sufficient answer to the
perplexed thoughts of many clays.  Great resolutions are not necessarily
preceded by much talking.

"I shall go with you," said Tom.

"I knew you would," was Wallion’s laconic reply.

                     *      *      *      *      *

The newspapers had not succeeded in stirring up any great interest in
the Dreyel case, and when the novelty had worn off, they said no more
about it.  After Victor Dreyel’s funeral, which took place on the Monday
following, Wallion had a short conversation with Aspeland in the
deserted studio.  The Superintendent was reluctantly giving up his
hopeless task and said somewhat bitterly:

"Toroni is merely a name.  We have done our utmost, but we can’t put the
bracelets on a shadow, and the search is at an end unless something new
turns up."

Wallion and Aspeland left the studio together, and the latter having
locked up and given the keys to the porter, wended his way home.

"A symbolical proceeding," remarked Wallion to Tom a little later.

"Victor Dreyel has solved the great riddle and has gone ’home’; Aspeland
found no clue, and he has gone ’home’ ... it is our turn now, No. 13
Toroni."

Wallion and Tom started for Gothenburg on the following Tuesday.  Tom
wished to defray the traveling expenses, but Wallion, after his work in
England, was financially independent, and settled matters with these
words:

"War expenses have to be shared equally ... Danger and success likewise
... Is that clear to you now?  Well then, off and away to the great
unknown."



                               *PART II*

                          *"THE WOODEN DOLLS"*



                              *CHAPTER IX*

                       *ELAINE ROBERTSON’S STORY*


"Our second day on board and not a glimpse of either her or the doctor,"
said Tom, gloomily.  "I begin to doubt their being on board at all."

He and Wallion were standing on the promenade deck, leaning over the
rails, and by chance no one else was there.  For two days the gigantic
propeller had been plowing its way through the surf.  A fresh breeze was
blowing and the sky stretched like a blue canopy from horizon to horizon
across the ever rising and falling waves.  The rhythmical thud of the
machinery within the capacious interior of the boat reached them where
they stood.

Tom gazed at the endless amplitude of the ocean, and, obsessed by doubts
when Wallion did not reply, at once continued.  "After all what are we
really here for?  Who knows whether the solving of the mystery connected
with those wooden dolls does, indeed, await us? We may have left it
behind, and Elaine may have disappeared for ever."

Wallion made a gesture as if lie had just awakened from sleep, and
looked at his friend.

"Compose yourself," he said.  "You don’t suppose I should leave anything
to chance? Certainly we did not see them come on board, but they are
here.  I have seen the list of passengers, and have had a chat with the
purser; they have engaged two of the best upper deck cabins.  Madame
Lorraine and the girl are in number five and the doctor in number seven.
As they keep so much to themselves, and even have their meals in the
cabin, I fancy they are aware of our presence.  I daresay they
wonder—perhaps, not without reason, what our intentions are."

"Yes, what must she think?" said Tom gravely.  "What shall I say to
her?"

"Say to her?  Why tell her the truth, that I am going to Seattle on
business for Christian Dreyel, and that you have come to keep me
company.  The promenade deck is free to all, and before this adventure
has come to an end I shall have to thank my stars and yours that we were
on the spot," said Wallion with much energy.

He threw away his cigar and looked at his watch.

"It is time to dress for dinner; we may meet our interesting traveling
companions in the dining-saloon."

"Do you think so?"

"Yes, they will have to get the better of their ... shyness, shall I
say?  Otherwise one might think they were suffering from a guilty
conscience."

When they entered the luxurious, brilliantly-lighted saloon, the two men
found themselves among the late comers.  Tom took his seat with burning
cheeks ... He had seen her again!

Elaine Robertson sat at one of the tables at the farther end.  She wore
a simple but costly black evening dress, her head was bent but he
thought that a slight blush mantled her cheeks also.  Had she seen him?
Doctor Corman, whose dark, Mephistophelian face expressed nothing in
particular, sat on her left.  On her right Tom noticed a bright,
good-looking woman with thick, burnished golden hair, who at that
moment, appeared to be putting a serious question to the Doctor.

"Madame Lorraine," remarked Wallion. "I wonder if she was making any
inquiries about us?"

The doctor’s face turned in their direction, and he gave his
interlocutor a curt answer; for, if he had noticed their presence he
certainly did not show it.  Tom fidgetted with impatience.

"Don’t worry," said Wallion, "we shall naturally get into conversation
with them, and don’t keep staring their way; there are plenty of other
people to look at."

Tom hardly heard him.  Wallion continued talking and presently Tom
became interested.

"Look at that little man at the small table, on the left there in the
corner—the one that looks like an Assyrian,—how does he strike you?"

Tom followed the direction indicated by Wallion and quickly discovered
the individual mentioned.

He was a man with narrow shoulders who ate and drank with philosophical
complacency, and without speaking to any one.  His appearance was
calculated to attract attention, his raven black, wavy beard was parted
down the middle and formed a sort of shiny chest-protector under the
sickly, thin-lipped mouth, above which was a long, straight nose,
starting from an abnormally high, arched forehead of triangular shape,
fringed by untidy, unkempt black locks, while his eyebrows resembled
streaks of soot.

"Who is he?" asked Tom, "a Persian philosopher?"

"No, in the list of passengers he figures as a Greek antiquary; his name
is Ricardo Ferail, which does not in the least sound like Greek."

"He seems to interest you?"

"He does, I should rather like to see him run," replied Wallion
absently; "but do look at Madame, I believe she is scolding."

Madame Lorraine had moved closer to Doctor Corman, and was talking
earnestly to the Doctor who several times shook his head.

Some of those sitting near began to notice them, and Madame stopped
talking with an angry shrug of her ample white shoulders.

At that moment something very strange occurred.  The Greek antiquary,
whose heavy eyelids had until now been cast down on his plate, suddenly
raised his dark, velvety orbs and turned them towards Elaine with a
sinister, dreamy look.  Elaine started visibly as if she had come into
contact with some loathsome object, and presently she got up hurriedly,
said something to the Doctor and left the saloon.

Corman and his sister exchanged glances and followed her; all three
disappeared, but the Greek continued his meal with the same indolent
serenity.  As Tom was also about to get up, Wallion said: "Sit still,
there’s no hurry."

"But I want to speak to her," replied Tom, "I don’t understand what is
going on here, but she looks sad and depressed, and once for all I must
speak to her."

"All right," retorted Wallion, "but couldn’t you wait a few minutes?"

"And suppose they should retire to their cabins again?" said Tom vexed.

"They won’t this time," said Wallion, "that would be a very bad policy,
and the Doctor is a thorough diplomat ..."

A quarter of an hour later Tom and Wallion again came up on deck with
fairly buoyant expectations.  They had not long to wait for their
mysterious fellow-passengers.  Doctor Corman came out of the saloon with
hands outstretched as if he had only just recognized them.

"What a surprise!" he cried, "the world is very small; so there was some
truth in what my sister heard: that the famous Maurice Wallion was on
board.  We should have met before if the two ladies had not been so
sick."  He shook them warmly by the hand and talked incessantly as if to
make up for the cool and over-hasty leave-taking in John Street.

"So delightful, gentlemen, such a charming surprise ... we can travel in
company."

"Yes," said Wallion, "as far as Seattle let us hope."

The doctor’s expression of polite surprise, which was undeniably only a
mask, became more marked.

"As far as Seattle?" he repeated in an entirely indifferent tone.

"Yes," replied Wallion smiling, "the last time we met I promised that
you should hear from me before you left Sweden.  We called once or twice
at your hotel at Gothenburg, but never had the luck to find you in, so
we were obliged to put off asking for the little elucidation we require,
until now."

The doctor’s eyes became sharper behind his pince-nez.

"Your journey to Seattle seems to have been quite a sudden plan?"

"As sudden as Dreyel’s death, Doctor Corman, which makes an explanation
all the more needful."

The doctor gave a mocking smile, and said, "Well, my curiosity is
beginning to be aroused; let us go into the saloon."  He led the way,
and before he realized where he was, Tom found himself bowing before
Elaine Robertson, whose fearless, serious eyes looked into his.  She was
sitting beside Madame Lorraine on a sofa in the corner.  Tom had an
uncomfortable suspicion that this meeting had been pre-arranged.

The doctor introduced his sister, and the usual civilities were
exchanged.  Madame was stout, unusually fair and good-looking, a little
over thirty, with sea-green, sleepy eyes and carmine lips; she looked at
the two men with the bold curiosity of a woman of the world but said
nothing.  Tom took a seat by Elaine and asked:

"Are you not surprised to see us here?"

"No," she said.  "I knew you were on board."

"Don’t you wonder what brought us here?"

"Well, perhaps ... why should I, though?" she broke off with a smile.
"We were bound to meet on the way, were we not?"

"Of course, if one’s destination happened to be the same," he replied.

Just then Doctor Corman’s voice was heard from above their heads: "And
only think, Elaine, what a surprise, these gentlemen are going to keep
us company as far as Seattle."

She breathed hard, her dark eyes gazing into the far distance.  Turning
to Tom, she asked eagerly: "Is that so?"

He nodded assent and turned for confirmation to Wallion, who drew up a
chair and joined them.  The Doctor sat down by his sister, folded his
arms with an air of interested expectation and said pleasantly: "Well,
now let us have the little explanation you seem to think so necessary,
Mr. Wallion."

"After what occurred in Stockholm the necessity should be patent,"
replied Wallion. "I consider it my duty to inform you that I am
traveling at the request of Christian Dreyel to get a little light upon
the mystery of those wooden dolls, and, as we are convinced that it can
be obtained only from William Robertson, we desire to see your father in
person, Miss Robertson, and rely upon Doctor Corman’s assistance."

Elaine never moved but listened with strained attention.  The Doctor was
going to speak, but Wallion continued:

"Yes, the information you gave us at our former meeting was most
valuable, but even for ’Phantom-Mania’ there must be some tangible
reason, and it is this reason or cause we wish to discover.  Is there
anything in William Robertson’s life to account for the death of Dreyel
or the vile attack upon his cousin?"

"You think there is?" said the Doctor very deliberately.

"It is my firm conviction."

In a still more leisurely tone the Doctor said:

"Elaine, would you mind telling these gentlemen how you found your
father?"

"No," she answered promptly, with what might have been taken for a sigh
of relief.  She looked at Wallion and said: "All along I have been
anxious to tell you all I knew.  There isn’t anything I want to keep
back ... but a great deal ... oh, such a great deal that I don’t
understand."

Tom was quite surprised at her evident eagerness, and it had a similar
effect upon Wallion. She no longer looked at any one in particular, but
was pale and nervous, as if she feared the opportunity might slip away
from her, and began her story at once, in a low, subdued voice:

"My father was born in Sweden, for William Robertson is only an
alteration of his Swedish name, which he has not used for the last
thirty years.  The name he bore during his boyhood in Sweden is no
longer remembered.  The narrow-minded and proud relations who forced him
to leave his native land are all gone."

"They forced him?" interposed Wallion.

"Yes," she went on.  "Perhaps it is not such an unusual story.  His
father was a lawyer and wanted his son to become one also.  At Upsala he
got among the artists, discovered that he had a talent for sculpture,
neglected his studies and evil rumors came to the ears of his father.
They led to a crisis which ended in his leaving the country
precipitately.  He has never done wrong to any one, never deceived or
slandered others as they have slandered him.  He came over to the United
States, broken down, without means and, though a well-educated
University man, was by turns reporter on a ’gold’ paper, barman, steward
on a fruit-ship, and lastly a tramp.  Then he went out West, and was
stableman on a wheat-farm until he became foreman.  The owner of the
farm, Mr. Bridgeman, took an interest in him, and one day, happening to
see a sketch my father had made—a pastoral idyll—sent it to a paper in
San Francisco, which accepted it, and, in a few years’ time, my father
became a popular, well-paid draughtsman.  That was his best time. He
married Violet Seymour and settled in San Francisco.  I was born on
January 10, 1898."  Here she paused.

The siren over their heads sent a deafening signal out into the night,
and was answered by another in the offing.  When all was quiet, Elaine
again took up the thread of her story:

"On New Year’s Day, 1902, my father accidentally came across two Swedes
whom he had known from childhood.  They were the cousins Dreyel, Victor
and Christian, and they told him they were just going to Alaska.  At
that time Klondyke had not the same old lure, but gold had been
discovered in the sand on the shores of the Seward peninsula in 1898,
and the two Dreyels met a Scotchman, Sandy MacCormick by name, who
professed to know quite a new place for digging the precious metal.
When my father heard their glowing promises he, too, was seized with the
gold-fever and resolved to join them.  He begged my mother to remain in
San Francisco, and promised her he would return within a twelvemonth.
Then, with the two Dreyels and MacCormick, he set off for Alaska."

"Aha!" ejaculated Wallion, whose eyes were glittering, "you won’t object
to my jotting down a few notes, will you?"

Almost unconsciously she bent her pretty head in assent and went on:

"That was the last my mother saw of him. In the autumn of the same year
terrible news reached us, and though I was only five years old I can
remember the beautiful, pale face of my mother on the morning she was
found dead in her chair.  Something awful must have happened up there in
Alaska, but how we got the message or what it was I don’t know, only
that it was too much for my mother’s weak heart.  Mr. and Mrs. Bridgeman
took me to live with them, and what I have been telling you now was told
me by Mr. Bridgeman, but my father’s fate was never mentioned.  I took
it for granted that he was dead.  The Bridgemans were kind, superior
people; they gave me all they could, and I was devoted to them.  But
Mrs. Bridgeman—auntie—died when I was sixteen, and Mr. Bridgeman the
year following—strange to say of the same complaint—inflammation of the
lungs.  I succeeded in getting a situation as typist in a business-house
in Sacramento."

"Did the Bridgemans leave you anything?" asked Tom.

"No, the farm was entirely in the hands of the railway company, owing to
bad harvests for two years in succession.  I obtained a better post
after a time in an office in Seattle, but did not get on there; one of
the directors, Mr. Dixon, who had been advertising for an expert
stenographer for his office at Seattle, fortunately chose me, after
making the most minute enquiries, from among a hundred applicants, and I
have been eighteen months in his employment.  Mr. Dixon is one of the
leading men of business in Seattle and has, among other things, a
wide-spread import connection, while he owns a wharf and several hotels
on the coast for summer visitors.  He is exacting, but kind and helpful,
and he showed great interest in my father’s fate.  He offered to assist
me to send out a search party, but nothing came of it. In November last
year..."  Elaine leant back on the sofa and closed her eyes, but after a
short rest she continued with trembling voice:

"In the beginning of November last year I saw my father again after
fifteen years.  I found him in a way which you might think beyond
belief.  One of Mr. Dixon’s hotels had been burned down; there were
difficulties about the insurance and, as Mr. Dixon was away, it was part
of my duty to furnish the reporters with certain details, and that was
how my name came to be in all the local papers.  A few days later a
white-haired, bent, fever-stricken man walked into the office.  He wept
for joy, and could hardly articulate my name ... that man..."  She
looked up, her eyes full of tears ... "that man was my father!  He had
seen my name in the papers but, scarcely dared believe his eyes, and it
was almost ghastly to see his childish delight, for he was completely
broken down and was living in the greatest poverty in one of the most
squalid quarters in Seattle ... I have shown you his photograph. I had
to look after him like a child, and I soon began to notice that he was
no longer in full possession of his senses.  I could only vaguely
surmise that he had returned from Alaska towards the close of the year
1902, ruined and in despair; that when he heard that my mother was dead
and I had gone, no one knew where, he was stricken down with a sharp
attack of brain fever, and five months later dismissed from the
hospital, a wreck both physical and mental.  I dare not even think of
the life he must then have led for nearly fifteen years, sunk in
melancholy brooding, a lonely wanderer from place to place.  I could
never prevail upon him to tell me what had happened up there in Alaska,
the region of gold and death, which had been the primary cause of his
misery and my mother’s death; but it must have been something awful,
indescribable and terrible, for every question I asked made him shudder,
and, at times, when I could see in his eyes that some dread recollection
had risen in his mind, he became nearly wild with despair or unreasoning
fury, and after such attacks he rarely spoke for days together.  More
serious symptoms then appeared.  He adhered to the idea that spies were
on his track; he used to burn paper as a spell, and shut himself up in
his room and busy himself with some mysterious work, the nature of which
I found out only by slow degrees.  He used to carve little wooden
figures which he called his dolls, his guardians, and he said:

’Don’t you see they watch over certain secrets. They are the dead
waiting.’

"His undue excitement made me very anxious, and when Mr. Dixon became
aware of that I was obliged to tell him everything.  He was greatly
touched and made me consult Doctor Corman, who at once pronounced my
father to be suffering from ’Phantom-mania.’"

"And that in the worst form," corroborated the Doctor.  "I immediately
took William Robertson under my own personal observation in my Home, and
my diagnosis revealed maniacal tendencies; as frequently happens, he was
perfectly sane with regard to the details of every-day life."

A long silence ensued.  Then Wallion asked:

"And what is your own impression, Miss Robertson, for you would scarcely
undertake a journey from Seattle to Stockholm for the purpose of
carrying out a sick man’s fancy?"

"I hardly knew what to think," she replied shivering.  "A feeling
sometimes comes over me that eventually ... that my father..."

"That your father? ... What? ..." queried the doctor.

"I don’t rightly know," she stammered. "But if you had seen the look in
my father’s eyes when he bade me go and bring back the two wooden
figures he had secretly sent to the two Dreyel cousins, if you had heard
his tearful appeal, you would understand me better.  It was one evening
early in July that he persuaded me to undertake the journey.  ’It is a
matter of life or death to your father, Elaine,’ he said, ’you must tell
them that Toroni has discovered the secret, and you must bring back the
wooden dolls, but take good care of them; go alone and speak to no one.’
At that moment I thought him not responsible for his words and actions,
but I went.  I felt that I was fulfilling a duty—abstract, but
imperative—I can’t express myself more clearly.  My father gave me one
of the dolls as a sort of pattern."

"And which, I am afraid, we forgot to give you back," said Wallion,
laughing.

"I never want to see it again," she answered, with another shiver.  "I
have told you all I know of the abominable transactions which prevented
my getting the dolls, and you know more than I do."

"Only another question or two," said Wallion.  "How did your father know
the addresses of the two cousins?"

"I believe he was in correspondence with an Information Bureau in
Stockholm.  Just before being taken to the asylum he indulged in an
enormous amount of letter writing to various places."

"Had he told you to send that telegram provisionally to Dreyel from
Gothenburg?"

"Yes ... as a warning; he said that every hour might be fatal."

"Extraordinary!" remarked Wallion, looking at Doctor Corman.  "Under
these circumstances do you really believe the appearance of the assassin
to have been accidental?"

The doctor shrugged his shoulders and said nothing.

"Anyhow, you followed the young lady about," said Wallion with some
asperity.  "You believed there was danger."

"Danger only to this extent, that she had started almost without means,
and without protection," retorted the doctor drily.  "Forgive me for
referring to such a trifling fact, Elaine; your hurried journey was more
like an attempt to escape, wasn’t it?"

Elaine had risen, she put both hands up to her head and said wearily: "I
have a bad headache, and am so tired I think I must go in."

She staggered and leant heavily on Tom’s arm.  Madame Lorraine rushed to
the girl’s aid and lovingly took her in her arms.

"My darling," she said fondly, "you have overexerted yourself, and you
must go in and rest."

All had risen from their seats.  With a wan smile Elaine bade them
"Good-night," and obediently went in with Madame Lorraine. When the two
ladies had gone there was a gloomy silence for a time, broken at last by
Doctor Corman.

"As you see, her nerves are overwrought.  I am sorry to have interrupted
the interesting recital so abruptly, but, no doubt, you observed that my
statement regarding William Robertson’s condition was confirmed.  Do you
still consider your journey to Seattle necessary?"

"A journey begun should never be abandoned," said Wallion sententiously,
fixing his eyes upon him.

The doctor threw back his head and laughed, showing his big white teeth.
"All right ... I admire your energy, I promise to do what I can to
hasten the result ... au revoir!"  He bowed and departed.

"Oh, excellent Doctor!" murmured Wallion. "I’ll give you an opportunity
to keep your promise.  Let us go into the smoking-room, Tom."

On the upper deck the Greek antiquary passed close to them and then
disappeared like a shadow into the darkness.



                              *CHAPTER X*

                            *RICARDO FERAIL*


The next day after dinner Wallion and Tom were quietly sitting in their
cabin.  The latter in a miserable frame of mind, for Elaine and her
people had not appeared at table.  He had sent an attendant with his
visiting card to inquire after Elaine’s health, and was waiting
impatiently for an answer.  Wallion smoked in silence, casting an
occasional glance at his friend.

"Alaska," he suddenly said as though following up a train of thought.
"Why shouldn’t ’King Solomon’ have been the name of a mine?"

"Why not, indeed?" remarked Tom starting up.  "But, if so, why did the
Dreyels or Robertson not go back there?" he said, hesitatingly. "A mine
can’t disappear entirely from the face of the earth."

"No, but it can be exhausted, and the booty purloined ... There are all
sorts of possibilities in connection with Alaska.  I wish we were on
land, we might glean some information from the papers of 1902 as to
whether there was any catastrophe there at that time, how news of it was
conveyed to Mrs. Robertson, what became of Sandy MacCormick, and who
Sanderson, and Russel were—to say nothing of the wooden dolls?"

Tom looked uneasily at Wallion, who continued to envelop himself in a
cloud of smoke and asked in a low tone:

"What do you think about her story?"

This was the tenth time this question, with sundry variations, had been
put to Wallion, but he remained quite unruffled, and answered:

"It is a most extraordinary one ... I have already said I consider it
remarkable."

"Just so, but did she tell us the truth?  Who on earth is this Doctor
Corman, with his sarcastic, satanic countenance?" said Tom. "Maybe he
has forced her to ... to..."

"Tell lies?  No, her story is incontrovertible, and as far as she knows,
perfectly true," said Wallion, leaning forward as he continued:

"But that does not prevent the doctor’s demeanor from seeming rather
singular.  I have just got hold of an interesting tale about their
journey from New York to Gothenburg.  They traveled on this very boat;
Elaine went second class, the Doctor and his sister first class, but did
he know then that the fugitive he was pursuing was so near ... or did he
not?  Again, how could fugitive and pursuer travel in the same train
from Gothenburg to Stockholm without noticing one another?"

"Well, that might be possible."

"It might be possible, but it is not likely. People meet so easily on
board ship; for instance, I myself am already acquainted with all our
fellow passengers, both first and second class, _in every detail_."

Tom burst out laughing.

"And did you find out anything?"

"Yes, I heard who else of those on board her now traveled by this liner
on her last voyage to Sweden."

"Well?"

"It seems there is only one other, and his name is Ricardo Ferail."

"The Greek antiquary?"

"Yes."

Tom recalled the look the Greek had given to Elaine in the
dining-saloon, and with an uncomfortable kind of foreboding he said:

"Do you know whether they are acquainted with each other?"

"Not openly, at least."

An odd undefined suspicion flitted through Tom’s brain.  He got up and
looked long and fixedly at his friend, but Wallion’s features were
inscrutable; he was listlessly staring at the ceiling, his hands clasped
behind his head. Just then Tom’s attention was diverted by a waiter, who
handed him a card and disappeared. On the card, and written in a bold
round hand, were these words:


    "I have ordered our protégée absolute rest for the next few
    days.  Kindest regards.

    Augustus N. Corman."


"Damn the doctor!" cried Tom.  "I don’t like his tone.  He and Madame
Lorraine keep guard over Elaine as if she had committed some crime.
Besides who the deuce is this Madame Lorraine?"

"She married a French violin player, Roland Lorraine by name, but they
were separated, that’s all I know," replied Wallion, getting up from his
seat and yawning.  "Are you coming in?"

"No," said Tom, throwing himself on the sofa, "as our fellow travelers
prefer to remain invisible I can worry here as well as anywhere else."

But when Wallion opened the door to go out, Tom remembered a question he
wanted to ask him.

"Why do you wish to see Ferail run, as you said yesterday at dinner?"

Wallion turned back.  "Wouldn’t it be rather amusing to see an antiquary
run?" he answered quite seriously.

Tom winked and threw up his hands.  "Get out," he said.  "I feel my
brain reeling.... God knows what sort of a nightmare I shall have
to-night."

The giant liner pursued its appointed way over the ocean; showers of
feathery foam played round the bows and all lights were on. From the
depths below, between decks, the wind wafted aloft echos of cheerful
dance music.  A fresh breeze had sprung up and there was no one on deck.
Evidently they were enjoying themselves on board.

For the last hour and more, Maurice Wallion had been pacing up and down,
his hands thrust deep into his pockets.  Now that he was alone his clear
cut features looked grave and perplexed; he had been turning the problem
over in his mind, and he had just realized that he could acquire full
and irrefutable information on one important detail whenever he felt
inclined to do so.  He had never found himself in such a peculiar
situation; but with a sudden, resolute gesture, he flung the end of his
cigar into the water; and as it disappeared in the dark like a shooting
star, he muttered to himself: "Yes, I’ll do it."

He went down to the promenade deck, and a minute later appeared calm and
unperturbed in the smoking-room, which was crowded and blue with smoke.
In a corner to the left of the bar, he perceived an Assyrian profile
which made him screw up his eyes.  It was Ricardo Ferail having a game
of poker with three other men. Wallion who, as a rule, recognized every
other or every third person he came across in the four quarters of the
globe, earnestly scanned Ferail’s partners, and found that he knew one
of them well.  Here was luck.  He advanced, and gave the man in question
a tap on the shoulder, saying:

"Evening, Mr. Derringer!  It’s a long time since that night at
Johannesburg."

"So it’s you, Mr. Wallion," he answered without a trace of
embarrassment.  Derringer was a thin, bony Englishman with a skin deeply
tanned by a tropical sun.  "Take a chair and join in our game; we want
one more to make up the ideal five."

After a casual, formal introduction to the other players, Wallion sat
down.  Ferail, who was the dealer, lifted his eyes for a second and gave
him a swift look.  The play continued for a time without interruption
and in silence. Then the Greek ran his finger-tips through his frowzy
beard, cast down his eyes, and observed:

"Where did you learn to play poker, Mr. Wallion?"

"At an Officers’ Mess in India, Mr. Ferail."

"A very fine school, no doubt," said the antiquary.  "You are going to
beat me."

These were the first words they had exchanged.  The game went on.
Half-an-hour later Derringer burst out laughing, and said: "Your luck
has turned, eh, Ferail?"

The antiquary had really lost a considerable amount, and his pile of
money melted quickly away.  Wallion acted on the defensive; he neither
won nor lost, but kept his eye on Ferail, who sat sulky and silent, his
white face, with the thin, sickly lips, giving not the slightest
indication of the workings of his mind.  He shuffled the cards and dealt
them with a quick and practised hand.  He seldom bought more than one or
two, and with a kind of dogged obstinacy kept increasing his stakes, but
that no longer helped him, for he lost every round. After another ten
minutes Derringer rose, and there was no more play.

"It’s so deucedly monotonous always to be winning," he said with a yawn.
"Let us leave off, I’ll give you your revenge to-morrow."

He and his two friends left the saloon, and Wallion and Ferail found
themselves alone, sitting opposite one another.

Drops of moisture shone on the Greek’s forehead, and he blinked his eyes
as, with philosophic composure, he gathered up the cards, but he did not
seem conscious that Wallion’s sharp eyes were constantly fixed upon him.
Presently Wallion leant across the table and said:

"Now to business, please ... No. 13 Toroni."

It seemed ages before Ferail opened his shining black eyes to their full
extent and shot an enigmatic glance at Wallion, saying as he did so: "I
don’t take you."

"Have a little sense, Toroni," said Wallion with an ambiguous smile.
"Perhaps you are not used to my ways ... but why should not we two be
frank with each other?  There are no witnesses!"

"I don’t grasp your meaning," repeated Ferail, in the same tone of
indifference.

"Well, I’ll explain to you.  First of all then I’ll tell you how I know
who you are.  My theory is this: In all probability Toroni traveled to
Stockholm in the same boat and the same train as Elaine, and both
arrived simultaneously at Dreyel’s studio; it is equally probable that,
having accomplished his object, Toroni immediately returned to America.
When one hears that a particular person used the same boat for a voyage
there and back, one begins to take an interest in that person, and if he
is short, thin and nimble the interest is heightened.  _You_ are that
person, but it has yet to be proved whether you are identical with
’Toroni.’  According to Christian Dreyel’s account the man I saw in his
garden was Toroni, but I only caught sight of his back as he was running
away; his face was concealed by a high collar, and his hat tilted over
his eyes.  I watched you on deck this morning, it was blowing hard; your
hat blew off and you ran after it.  I saw your back and recognized at
once the motion of your arms and your gentle tiptoeing. No, don’t
interrupt me ... the identification was conclusive.  What should you say
if I had you arrested on the spot and your four trunks containing
’antiques,’ searched?  Would you describe the two wooden dolls also as
antique curios?"

Ferail had not moved, but he continued to stroke his beard.

"Unfortunately, I must again repeat that I don’t understand you," he
answered; "your conversation is very odd but rather interesting.  I am
Ricardo Ferail, born at Salonika, but an American citizen for the last
ten years.  I have visited your beautiful country in search of antiques,
and can produce papers bearing me out."

"Of that I have not the least doubt," replied Wallion.  "I am sure you
protected yourself perfectly well."

"Now, supposing I were that Toroni," the Greek resumed, "should I be so
careless as to have those dolls among my luggage?  ... I can’t tell ...
but it seems to me that I should rather have sent them through the post
to some address you would not know—you can’t open every mailbag that
leaves Sweden—or have hidden them somewhere after having found out their
secret meaning.  I might even have destroyed them.  There are so many
ways.  The arresting of that Toroni you speak of would be a ticklish
undertaking.  Meanwhile the secret of the wooden dolls might be
hopelessly lost, to you and your friends."

"You are a clever fellow," said Wallion. "That’s why I want to come to
an understanding or at least to make a bargain with you.  I can arrest
you now—and it entirely depends upon yourself whether I shall do so or
not, for you have a shocking disregard for human life, Toroni, and you
have already made an attempt to silence Elaine Robertson for good and
all. Now as we shall be, if I mistake not, fellow travelers as far as
Seattle, to begin with—for I am not going to lose sight of you—what say
you to a truce during the voyage?  I let you run to the end of your
tether, and you stop molesting Elaine?"

"And then?"

"That will be a question between you and me."  Ferail reflected for a
few minutes.

"Do you mean that I shall be arrested the moment we arrive at Seattle?"
he said.

"How long respite do you want?"

"Twenty-four hours."

Wallion lighted a cigar and attentively watched the Greek.  "I shall
shadow you," he said.

"If I were Toroni it might, perhaps, prove dangerous," he remarked.

"I am not concerned about my own safety; you shall have your twenty-four
hours, but I shall not be far off, I give you warning."

Ferail sank listlessly back in his corner and closed his eyes.  "I
accept the bargain," he said.

"All right," replied Wallion, rising.  "Good evening, Mr. Ferail," and
without so much as a nod or offering his hand he left the smoking-room.
When he came down he found Tom sound asleep, and he wondered whether he
should wake the young man to tell him what had happened.

"No, I won’t," he thought.  "Time enough when we get to Seattle ... That
is where the struggle will begin."

That night Wallion enjoyed good, sound sleep, such as comes after hard
work.



                              *CHAPTER XI*

                     *A "WELCOME" GIFT AT SEATTLE*


A few hours before the liner was due to run into New York harbor Doctor
Corman approached the two Swedes, who were leaning against the railing.

"Allow me to make a suggestion," he said in an amicable tone.  "We have
before us a long journey by train right across America, and I suppose
your destination, like our own, is still Seattle?"

"It may not be our final one," answered Wallion; "at any rate it is our
nearest."

The doctor raised his hands as deprecating Wallion’s ambiguous reply,
and said: "Then let us form a little, exclusive friendly party and our
journey will be the pleasanter, will it not?  Elaine is nearly well
again now, but for her sake we should agree to let all business matters
rest until we arrive."

"Of course, we quite think so," replied Wallion. The suggestion met with
unqualified approval from Tom, and he almost began to like the Doctor.

When the statue of the goddess of Liberty, and behind it the turrets of
the sky-scrapers, became visible, the passengers emerged from their
cabins one by one.  Elaine and Madame Lorraine joined the men and the
conversation became lively.  Elaine, though still pale, was evidently on
the way to recovery.  Tom had to acknowledge that the prohibition which
had bereft him of the sight of her for some days had really been a happy
thought, and that, too, made him more favorably disposed towards the
doctor.  He could hardly take his eyes off her thoughtful, attractive
face, and said:

"I trust your principles with regard to the journey by rail are less
rigid than with regard to a voyage by boat."

"How so?" she asked.

"So that we may enjoy more of your company, I meant to say."

She smiled, but there was a look of anxiety in her eyes, which she
steadily turned towards the land.  Signals of all descriptions came from
the ships, a heavy shower fell, the seagulls shrieked, and there was a
stir in the air. Immediately before landing, Wallion came up to Tom and
hurriedly whispered in his ear: "Stay here with them and lend a helping
hand with our luggage at the Customs; I shall look you up later."

He hurried away and found the man answering to the name of Ricardo
Ferail at the head of the big stairs.  They had not exchanged a word
since that memorable night in the smoke-room. Without any preliminaries
Wallion said curtly:

"I intend to be near you when your luggage is examined; come along, it
is time."

Ferail began to move without answering, and went down the steps, Wallion
close at his heels. Twenty minutes later the journalist was convinced
that Ferail had not got the dolls with him, for the four enormous trunks
contained a jumbled mass of curios and antique objects which seemed to
have been scraped together without care or knowledge; but there were no
well-known wooden images.  Wallion looked at Ferail, who was watching
the proceedings inert and silent.

"I am half-inclined to believe that you did send them through the post,
Toroni," he said, in a low, sharp tone.  "The other alternative you
spoke of is less likely; ... you reckoned to arrive at the same time as
the parcels ... and you must have an accomplice, a receiver ... at
Seattle, or where?"

Ferail turned livid with anger, but he neither looked up nor spoke.

"You are silent?  Now listen, Toroni, would it not be wiser to save
yourself and the Government police a heap of trouble?  Confess now and I
will see to the rest."

Ferail’ shot a glance of deadly hate right into Walloon’s gray eyes.

"No!"  He sputtered out the word as if it had been poison, turned and
went away.

                     *      *      *      *      *

The express, with its shining row of Pullman cars, stood ready to
depart, and a babel of voices, hurrying steps and creaking barrows,
filled the huge station hall.  Tom looked anxiously about for Wallion,
of whom he had not caught a glimpse since landing.  At last he saw him
coming along, lost in thought, and Tom, much relieved, called out:

"I thought you had quite disappeared.  Where have you been?  The ladies
and the doctor are already on board waiting for you."  He stopped
abruptly, for at that moment he saw the Greek antiquary climb up into
one of the last carriages. He saw, too, that Wallion was keeping a
watchful eye on the man, and said: "What! he, too. Where is that
despicable creature going?"

"We shall see," answered Wallion—who was not inclined to tell how he had
shadowed Ferail through half New York; and that the man had neither
spoken to any one or sent any messages—and he heaved a sigh of relief
when he saw his taciturn enemy safely ensconced in the train. "Get in,"
he said to Tom; "I’ll be there in a minute,"—and he hurried off to the
telephone.

He rang up the Secret Service Division in New York; the next minute a
well-known voice, expressing surprise, answered:

"Hallo!  Wallion, how do you do?  I’ve just heard that you came over in
the Swedish liner.... What in the world are you doing here—in this
town?"

The Chief of the secret police in New York was looked upon as one of the
cleverest officials in that city.  Wallion had made his personal
acquaintance in connection with a big English case, and so could
confidently reckon on a very friendly reception.

"I intend to ask you for a little assistance," he said; "I am on my way
to Seattle on a very tiresome job.  I shall, probably, be able to
requisition official help before long, but just now there is an
important link missing in the chain of evidence."

"All right, I understand ... What shape shall it take?"

"Can I have a clever, reliable man to meet me at the station at
Seattle?"

"H—m, what has he got to do?"

"To shadow a certain person for twenty-four hours; after that I think we
can have him arrested."

"H—m, sounds promising.  I’ll supply your man.  Tell me by what train
you are leaving. Oh, indeed ... well, it shall be done, and say,
Wallion, on your way back come and see me and have a smoke."

"Thanks," replied Wallion, laughing.  He rushed back to the train, which
was just about to move, entered the compartment into which he had seen
Ferail disappear, and finding his man there engrossed in a paper and
seemingly regardless of the outer world, went quietly to his own
compartment and joined his party.

Tom was engaged in animated conversation with Madame Lorraine, and had
even succeeded in bringing a smile to Elaine’s lips.  The long train
journey once begun, a feeling of relief seemed to have come over all of
them.  For several days there would be no change; one would have a
little breathing time and could, for the present, forget what the future
might have in store.  But Wallion’s thoughts were with the pale, silent
man sitting in the same train not twenty yards away, huddled up in a
corner, waiting ... planning ... what?

The sociable relations suggested by Doctor Corman were outwardly
maintained throughout the long railway journey across America; one
cannot always vouch for what will happen nowadays on a journey by train,
notwithstanding its amenities, its comforts, and almost uninterrupted
contact with the outside world.

It would be an exaggeration to assert that all went smoothly and
harmoniously, however. Doctor Corman’s frigid politeness hardly glossed
over his frequent sarcasms, and his whole bearing showed plainly that he
considered the society of the two Swedes tolerable but absolutely
uninteresting.  Madame Lorraine had fits of silent abstraction, and
Wallion, who noticed everything, used sometimes to wonder what she was
thinking about.  On several occasions, having noticed that she seemed to
look upon her brother with contempt, he said to himself: "What does she
know? ... and what does she expect? ... A silent woman is an
incomprehensible anomaly even to her friends ... We are certainly a
heterogeneous party."

In the meantime Wallion noticed with some measure of gratification that
Tom and Elaine got on extremely well together.  There were two, at
least, who were not up in arms against each other, quite the reverse; in
fact, day by day Tom’s devotion became more marked, and Elaine’s eyes
shone with newly-awakened interest.

But Wallion had other things to think about. Hour after hour, as the
train sped over the mountain and plain, he watched the man who posed as
Ferail; and though they never spoke, each was well aware of the
proximity of the other.  Ferail remained perfectly silent; he never
appeared in the smoking compartment nor on the standing platform to see
the view.

On the day fixed for the arrival of the train at Seattle a telegram was
put into Wallion’s hands; it ran: "McTuft, will meet the train at
Seattle.  He is clever and discreet."  He rubbed his hands, for he had
been anxiously expecting some such communication, and at once despatched
a long, detailed wire to McTuft, whom he had never seen, but who was
waiting for him.

With a creaking of brakes the train ran into the station of Seattle.
Wallion and Tom stepped out on to the platform with as much elation as
one goes to the theater with on an interesting "first night."  But they
had no time to exchange words, as Doctor Corman and his sister came up
to them.

"Mr. Wallion," began the doctor with a smile which displayed nearly all
his teeth, "we have reached our destination and I am at your service.
When may I count upon your visit to my Home?"

"The sooner the better," replied Wallion.

"Nevertheless, it may, perhaps, not be quite convenient this afternoon;
Elaine is my sister’s guest in our villa, which is also the asylum, and
settling in again always requires a certain amount of time.  Then there
is my assistant who looked after the Home during my absence and will, no
doubt, want to confer with me. Can I send you a message later, naming an
hour?"

Wallion cast a quizzical look at the doctor.

"Thanks," he said.  "Murner and I are staying at the Pacific.  I will
wait there for your message."  He bowed and proceeded along the platform
as if he wanted to look after some luggage.  As soon as he had mingled
with the crowd he drew forth his handkerchief and mopped his brow,
whereupon a tall, gaunt young man approached as if by command.

"I am McTuft, at your service, Mr. Wallion," he said, touching his hat.

Wallion looked at him closely.  At first sight the young Seattle
detective looked like an awkward, simple, red-haired country lad; but
there was something in his light blue, gentle eyes and wide, mobile
mouth, that inspired Wallion with entire satisfaction.

"That’s all right, Mr. McTuft, we shall get on very well together.  Your
job can begin immediately ... Do you see that man over there who is just
passing through the stile?"

"The one that looks like a cross between Belshazzar and Judas?" McTuft
asked drily.

"Yes, that’s the man ... He calls himself Ricardo Ferail, dealer in
antiques; you must follow him like his shadow wherever he goes; notice
with whom he gets into communication, and report every step he takes to
me at the Pacific Hotel before ten this evening at latest."

"Suppose he should leave Seattle, what then?"

"Send me a wire, and go with him."

The next minute McTuft had joined the crowd, rushed through the stile
and disappeared in the track of the antiquary.  Wallion smiled and
followed more leisurely.  Outside he encountered Tom; they exchanged
cool good-bys with Doctor Corman and the ladies, who were just getting
into a motor.  Ten paces away Ferail was opening the door of another
car.  Wallion was startled, for he thought he saw the Doctor and the
Greek exchanging a significant though scarcely perceptible nod. The two
motors drew out of the station yard; a third followed close upon the one
in which Ferail sat.  McTuft had begun his task.

Wallion waited a little and looked after them until they disappeared.
Was it a fact that Ferail had given a sign to Doctor Corman? He bit his
lip.

"Let us drive to the hotel," he said.  "We must hold ourselves in
readiness.  Things may move more quickly than I thought," he said to
himself.

"What things?" said Tom, taken aback. But he got no answer beyond an
impatient "We shall see."

As it happened, Tom was not in the humor for conversation; he had become
so accustomed to Elaine’s society that the separation left a great
blank; her sweet face and gentle voice occupied his thoughts to such an
extent that he felt both happy and miserable.  They had been so near
each other during the journey, and how was it going to be now?

The afternoon merged into evening as Tom and his friend sat silently
waiting in the hotel, each immersed in his own reflections.

"What are we waiting for?" inquired Tom, at last.  "Why don’t you do
something?"

Wallion vouchsafed no answer; he kept looking at the clock; it was
getting dark.  At eight McTuft appeared.

"At last," exclaimed Wallion, rising from his chair.  "Where is Ferail?"

"Shall I report at length or will you simply question me?" replied the
young Scotsman, curtly but pleasantly.  "This man, Ferail, was the very
devil for giving me trouble.  I shadowed him in a car and he did only
two things worth mentioning.  At 6:30 he telephoned to Director Edward
A. Dixon."

"To whom, did you say?" burst out Wallion.

"To Director E. A. Dixon," repeated McTuft.

"Elaine Robertson’s employer," Wallion whispered to Tom, who sat silent
and dumb-founded.  "All seems turning out well, as you see.  Now what
more?"

"Ferail inquired whether the ’goods’ had come.  The answer seemed to
satisfy him."

"So the ’goods’ have arrived," observed Wallion, whose eyes glowed
triumphantly, "and then?"

"Then our man drove to his lodgings at 39 Church Street, and there he
remained; I put on a man to watch whilst I am here, but first I drove to
Headquarters to get a few particulars, as you see."  He gave Wallion a
paper from which he read aloud:


    "RICARDO FERAIL.  Greek.  Age 42.—Professes to be a dealer in
    antiques, but has no real profession or business; otherwise
    known as a professional gambler.  Never convicted. Nicknamed
    ’Silent Ferail.’  Is not an American citizen.  Has been living
    for the last eight months at 39 Church Street.

    "EDWARD ATTISWOOD DIXON.  Born in New York 1859.  Well-known
    business man in Seattle.  Supposed to be insolvent.  The dispute
    with the Insurance Company about the the summer hotel burnt
    recently was decided in his favor.  The sum paid by the
    Insurance Company saved him from bankruptcy.  Owns five hotels
    and a wharf on the coast.  Has extensive import connections."


Wallion gave McTuft a hearty slap on the back.

"Good," he said.  "You know your business. Now what about the other
matter in hand to which I referred in my telegram."

McTuft shook his head.  "I have not been able to find out anything at
all about King Solomon.  There is no record of any King Solomon mines,
and nothing about a catastrophe in Alaska which might fit in with your
theories, in the Seattle papers of 1902.  On the other hand we’ve got
Doctor Corman," McTuft continued undisturbed, in true reporter fashion.
"Towards the end of the nineties he was accused of poisoning at Chicago;
his wife died of arsenic poisoning.  He was pronounced ’Not Guilty.’  At
present he is Dixon’s most intimate friend and lives, in part, at his
expense."

Both Wallion and Tom stared in amazement at the detective, who retailed
his news with no more emotion than if he had been talking about the
weather.

"Well, and what about the sister?" inquired Wallion when McTuft had
finished.

"There’s nothing of any importance about her," said McTuft.

"And what about Corman’s asylum?"

"It’s quite correct that he is a medico," the Scotsman said, shrugging
his shoulders. "Want to know anything more?  Well then, I’ll go back to
39 Church Street."

He went, and for some minutes Wallion stood as if dead to all his
surroundings; his nostrils quivered and his lips were pressed hard
together.  All at once he said:

"I take less interest in Doctor Corman’s past than in the fact of his
connection with Dixon, the kindly employer who was so much interested in
Elaine Robertson’s history ... the chain is complete now.  Scarcely had
Ferail set foot in Seattle when he inquired about certain ’goods’ at
Dixon’s, the ’goods’ being the two stolen dolls, and it was to Dixon he
had sent them from Stockholm.  Again, I am perfectly sure now that
Corman and Ferail exchanged signals at the station. They are old
acquaintances, but they kept it secret from us.  Dixon, Corman and
Ferail, there we have our enemies."

"But who, then, is this fellow Ferail?" asked Tom.

"Haven’t you already guessed?  He is Toroni, of course."

A waiter came up just then.

"A gentleman is here asking for Mr. Wallion; his name is Henry Morris."

"Show him in."

A pale, short-sighted man in black came forward, and after an awkward
bow said: "I am Doctor Corman’s assistant.  The doctor sends his
compliments and he hopes to see you, gentlemen, at the asylum at 11
to-morrow morning."

"Thanks, are you going back there?"

"No, I gave up my post to-day and am leaving for Portland by the night
train.  I offered to leave his message on my way."

"Is that so?" said Wallion, very deliberately. "Does Doctor Corman
intend to look after his patients alone then?"

"He has only one."

Wallion nodded, it was just what he had expected.  He accompanied Morris
to the door and said:

"Nice place, Portland, are you going to set up in practice there?"

"No, I am going to be assistant surgeon at the hospital," replied
Morris, and with a stiff inclination of the head he left the hotel.

Tom, who all this time had been on tenterhooks, rushed at Wallion and
seized his arm.

"What is the meaning of it all?" he said. "You say that Ferail is Toroni
and Corman’s friend; why didn’t you have him put in gaol?"

"Because I want to find out first where those wooden dolls have got to,"
replied Wallion calmly, "but I am rather beginning to fear that I gave
him too long a respite."  After a pause he added: "Tom, we shall have
to..."

Again there was an interruption; a waiter appeared with a biggish parcel
done up in blue paper.  "For Mr. Wallion," he announced.

"Hallo, what next?  Who left this?"

"A little chap, who ran away immediately, sir."

Wallion made a sign to the man to leave the room, and proceeded to undo
the parcel.  It contained five wooden dolls, exact facsimiles of those
with which they were already only too well acquainted.  Wallion picked
up a card on which was written, in a fine female hand:


    "If you want to hear more about these dolls come to the West
    Seattle railway station one hour after midnight."


"What on earth is it?" said Tom, rather scared.

"’Welcome to Seattle,’" said Wallion, bursting into a fit of grim
merriment.  "A few playthings to amuse us whilst we are waiting."

He examined the figures minutely one by one. Under the foot of each he
found a number; these were respectively: 1, 3, 7, 9 and 11.

"Uneven numbers only," he grunted; "with the one we took out of the
girl’s satchel the series from one to eleven would be complete.  Yes,
that is rather puzzling; an unknown giver," he said with a sardonic
smile, looking at the card once more.  "H—m, West Seattle station at one
o’clock in the morning."  He tore the card to pieces.  "No," he said in
a hard voice, "that trap is not good enough.  Put those images into a
bag, Tom ... we’ll have another look at them later on."

He paced up and down the room for a time, deep in thought; then he
spoke: "They want to keep us out of the way till to-morrow, that is why
they want us to keep the appointment to-night; Tom, I shall require your
assistance; I mean to pay a little surprise visit to the doctor and his
friends to-night."



                             *CHAPTER XII*

                          *WILLIAM ROBERTSON*


Doctor Corman’s villa and private asylum lay just outside and to the
north of the town.  At ten P.M. Wallion and his friends got out of a
taxi which drew up a hundred yards from the heavy iron gates of the
villa and, as they anticipated a long, tedious wait, they sent the
chauffeur home.  Their object was to find out who was there and to
interfere in case of need only.

"Remember that William Robertson is there," was Wallion’s cautious
remark; "we must be careful not to bring things to a premature crisis."

They passed by the gates and climbed over a wall protected by shady
trees.  The night was dark, cloudy, and very still; there seemed no
other houses near.  They landed in what appeared to be badly kept marshy
ground.  The villa lay immediately before them, a pretentious, modern
stone building on two floors, with a loggia giving on to the grounds,
and a spacious lawn in front whence a short drive led to the gates.  A
faint light burning in a room over the loggia revealed that there were
iron bars to the window.  With the exception of this feeble illumination
there was nothing on this side of the house to indicate that it was
inhabited; but Wallion made a noiseless investigation of the other side
and discovered lights in two windows on the second floor.  These had no
bars—merely thick curtains.

"I am thinking of climbing up to that barred window," he whispered, when
he again joined Tom, "wait for me here."  And before Tom could
expostulate Wallion had climbed on to the roof of the loggia, and
disappeared from sight. For a few minutes he lay at full length on the
zinc roof and listened intently; hearing nothing he stealthily crept up
to the window and looked in.

What he saw was nothing less than a whitewashed cell with a single lamp
suspended from the ceiling; the furniture consisted of a strong wooden
stool, a wooden table, and a wooden bedstead securely fixed to the wall.
A man lay on the bed.  Wallion recognized him at once, thanks to the
photograph in Elaine’s locket; the neglected white hair, the emaciated
features and the feverish bright eyes had left a deep impression on his
mind.  He was William Robertson.  He lay motionless on his back, his
hands clasped under his head.  Wallion looked long and pityingly at him
through the thick glass.  There was nothing in William Robertson’s
expression to indicate madness; his face wore a look of apathy and calm
resignation.  The poor man, a prisoner rather than a patient, the object
of their search—would he be able to answer the questions put to him?
Wallion looked towards the door.  It was locked, no doubt.  How dark and
dismal the house must be! ... Why was Elaine not with her father?  He
stopped to think, and then crept along the roof as far as the other
windows which had no bars, but were now in complete darkness; he gently
tried one of them which did not appear to be fastened; it yielded
without any noise and he stepped in.  The room in which he found himself
was small and led into a dimly-lighted passage; he thought he could
detect a faint odor of tobacco.  Finally, hearing nothing, he crossed
the room and looked out into the passage.  A lamp hung from the ceiling
at the farther end, and he perceived the balustrade of a staircase, and
several doors—all shut.  He walked along a red carpet to the end of the
corridor, and there found that one of the doors, which seemed to be more
massive than the rest, was padlocked, but the key was in the lock.
Wallion’s bump of topography told him that this must be the door of the
cell he had seen through the window.  Without another moment’s
hesitation he turned the key and went in.  The man on the bed slowly
raised himself, but Wallion quickly closed the door and laid a finger on
his lips.

"All right, Mr. Robertson," he said with a smile, "don’t be alarmed.  My
name is Wallion. I have come from Sweden and bring a message from
Christian Dreyel."

William Robertson looked steadily at him, not with fear, but with an
almost childlike curiosity.

"You are welcome, Mr. Wallion," he answered in a voice the strength of
which had been sapped long ago, "don’t be afraid that I shall make a
noise.  My daughter has told me all about you and your friend."  In a
low and hopeless tone he added, "But you have come too late."

"Too late? ... Not a bit of it....  It is never too late for anything,"
said Wallion soothingly, sitting down on the edge of the bed.  "Your
daughter is here safe and sound, and we are going to help you; but time
flies, and you must tell me everything quickly, precisely and without
reserve.  My friend Murner is waiting outside, and no one has the
remotest idea that I am here with you."

Robertson wrinkled his brow in a painful effort to understand.

"If they did know," he whispered, "you would not get out of here alive.
I am in a prison; they insist on taking me for a madman.  I am not
mad—but expect I soon shall be.  Oh, if you only knew what I have to go
through. Their prisoner ... their prisoner..." and he laid his hand on
Wallion’s coat sleeve.

"But your daughter?"

"They have deceived my daughter."

Wallion saw a spark of fire in the dim eyes as Robertson leant over
nearer to him, and deep in those hollow orbs there glowed a soul driven
to the utmost border of reason, appealing for help. Wallion was seized
with inexpressible compassion, and by way of encouragement took the
cold, weak hands into his own warm ones.

"Try to set your mind at rest," he said.  "But tell me: am I to
understand that your daughter is not aware of the treatment Doctor
Corman metes out to you?"

"Doctor Corman is cunning," whispered Robertson.  "He enticed me here at
first when I was sick ... Yes, when I was cast down and ill he took me
up in a kind, friendly way; I was put into a pretty little room on the
other side of the corridor, a sweet little room with no bars." ... Here
he lost himself ... "without bars," he repeated.

"Yes, I see," said Wallion, "so he was kind to you for a time ... but
one day you got to know that he was a friend of Toroni’s, did you not?"

Robertson looked up in fear.

"Do you really know everything?" he gasped. "That was it; Toroni was
alive and prying into the secret.  Toroni was Doctor Corman’s friend,
but though the Doctor was sly and deceitful, I saw through him and his
many questions at last; then they moved me in here.  But listen how
artful he was.  When Elaine came to see me I had to receive her in that
pretty little room as if it were still mine, and behind a curtain Toroni
watched, revolver in hand, ready to shoot me, if I revealed the least
thing.  Can you imagine such a thing?" he burst out, raising his clasped
hands.  "And he would have killed us both had I ventured to say a word."

"Anyhow, you managed secretly to persuade your daughter to undertake the
voyage to Sweden."

"Who knows whether that also did not leak out?  I believe it did,"
Robertson answered languidly.  "I had sent off the dolls before I came
here.  They probably decoyed me here so that they might find out their
whereabouts.  I am inclined to think so...."

Wallion nodded: "There’s not the least doubt of that; Toroni and his
accomplices went about their work thoroughly.  Do you think your
daughter has the least inkling of the plight you are in?"

"No, but I believe she begins to think the Doctor’s diagnosis of my case
is wrong," replied Robertson in an unusually natural and deliberate
voice.  "She told me last night that I am going to be taken away from
here, and that everything would be made clear...."

"Oh, there she is right enough," said Wallion, "but a lot of things have
to be done before then. You must place full confidence in me, Mr.
Robertson, and tell me all," he bent forward. "Tell me what is the
mystery about King Solomon?"

William Robertson raised his hand to his forehead as if to disperse the
mist of years; it shook and the fire in his eyes died down once more.

"Oh, of course, I will tell you," he said half absently, "the time has
come that I should tell you, perhaps, though you had better read it..."
he roused himself.  "I’ve written it all down—the account of King
Solomon, you shall read it...."

All at once he looked with more intelligence at Wallion.

"I wrote it all down when I was in that room on the other side of the
corridor.  It is the first door on the left; there you’ll find the
document as well as a list of the twelve."

"What twelve?" broke in Wallion excitedly.

"Well, the list of the twelve who were the rightful owners."

Wallion was about to speak, but Robertson resumed with feverish haste:

"Go in there, open the window and feel along the molding on the further
side; that is where the papers are, wrapped up in a piece of oilcloth. I
hid them there."

Greatly surprised, Wallion smiled.

"A very good hiding place, too," he said reflectively.  "Things seem
quiet enough in the house," he continued, "and those documents I
certainly must have...."  He lifted a warning finger.  "A motor is
coming up the drive."

The hum of a motor, and the grinding of wheels on the gravel could be
heard distinctly on the other side of the house.  Wallion turned to
Robertson and said:

"Stay here, and be calm; I’ll come back soon, if I can; anyhow, you will
be free to-morrow at the latest.  Trust me."

He gave a parting nod to the poor man, who looked wistfully after him,
and went out.  There was no one in the corridor and he locked the door
so as not to raise a sudden alarm.  On the farther side of the house he
heard a door open and stopped to listen.  There was no other sound, but
he thought he heard the murmur of voices behind one of the doors a long
way down. He frowned and hurriedly transferred his Browning from an
inner to an outer pocket; then he made his way into the "sweet, little
room" which had been the unfortunate man’s first resting place in the
asylum.  It was simple but bright with flowers on the table, most likely
put there by Elaine.

But Wallion had no time to waste on details. Without striking a light he
opened the window, stepped out, and with his hands groped along the
molding above his head.  Immediately below he noticed the shining black
hood of a motor, with shaded lamps and faintly humming engine, but there
was no one to be seen in the drive.  Wallion observed these facts
mechanically, for his hands had already grasped a roll of something
which had been hidden in the molding of the wall above the window.  He
got down satisfied and elated, and closed the casement again.  "At
last," he said to himself, "at last the key to the mystery is in my
hands." He took a few steps into the room, but suddenly stopped short,
every nerve in his body whispered "Danger," and his hands sought his
pocket.  The electric light was switched on, and in the doorway stood
Doctor Corman.

"I beg you to keep quiet," said the Doctor, with his usual cold,
well-trained voice, "and hands up, if you please."  A revolver gleamed
in his hand—and Wallion obeyed.

"Delighted to meet you here _en famille_, Doctor," he said smiling, "I
know now how keenly I appreciated your worth during our railway journey
together."

"What business brings you here?" asked the Doctor curtly.

"Did you think I was going to play with dolls like a good boy, and go to
the station at West Seattle at one o’clock in the morning?" said
Wallion.  "No, the card you made Madame Lorraine write did not lure me,
and I hadn’t patience enough to wait until eleven o’clock to-morrow;
that’s what has brought me here."

"And you preferred to sneak in like a thief?"

"You are very particular ... I got in where I could."

"You will be received accordingly.  Be good enough to keep still; our
explanation will be short but to the point."

Wallion’s eyes wandered to the left, where he suspected a door concealed
behind a curtain.

"As you please," he said, "but I think our friend Ferail had better show
himself too. Aha, he is hesitating, perhaps he would rather be addressed
by another name.  Now, then, come along, No. 13 Toroni."

The curtain was drawn aside and Ferail appeared in the light.  He also
had a revolver in his hand.



                             *CHAPTER XIII*

                       *FERAIL MAKES A PROPOSAL*


"Good evening," said Wallion, in an amicable tone.  "You are right in
making the most of the fleeting moments; your twenty-four hours’ respite
has not quite run out yet."

The Doctor was as imperturbably cool as ever but Ferail’s countenance
had altered indeed. His upper lip was drawn up above the gums, his eyes
were burning, and the skin of his distorted, repulsive face had turned
to a greenish pallor, as if his choler were choking him.

"I can do without your respite, Wallion," he said.  "Did you think I
could not shake off that simpleton McTuft?  You had better get some
other man in his place, for he is no good.  Why don’t you have me
arrested now, eh?"

"Have you arrested?  Certainly not ... your conversation is so
exceedingly pleasant...."

"Enough of that," interrupted Doctor Corman, "Ferail, get that roll our
visitor is holding in his hand.  He has had better luck than we, he has
found Robertson’s notes....  I am sorry, Mr. Wallion, but they don’t
belong to you.  Take them, Ferail."

The Greek did so, and went with great thoroughness through the pockets
of his victim, though he took nothing except the Browning, which he
threw on the sideboard.

Steps became audible in the corridor, and a stout but active-looking man
in a well-fitting chauffeur’s uniform, walked in.

"What is all this delay about?" he said sharply. "Haven’t you settled it
yet, boys?  Who the deuce is that man there?" he added, staring at
Wallion who, being now without a weapon, stood with his arms at his side
and his hands in his pockets, leaning against a chair.

"He is one of those Swedes," answered Corman.  "We caught him in the act
of stealing some papers of Robertson’s."

"My name is Maurice Wallion, at your service," said the journalist
detective, with a mocking bow, "I presume I am addressing Mr. Edward
Attiswood Dixon?"  The name rolled glibly off his tongue.

He had made a shrewd guess at the owner of the black motor, and he
examined him with undisguised curiosity.  In spite of his corpulence the
man moved with well-trained ease and self-possession; his face was
ruddy, and he was bald with the exception of a little gray fringe at the
back of his head.  His features were full and coarse—a face like that of
Nero up-to-date, made in America.

Wallion was not disappointed, he had pictured Elaine’s employer
something like this.

Dixon slowly took off his driving gloves and let his eyes, which were
entirely devoid of expression, rest on the "Problem-Solver."

"Well, Mr. Wallion," he said, "you seem to be in rather a fix just now.
Pray, are you always so imprudent?"

"Of course, life would be so monotonous otherwise."

Dixon showed no sign of having heard this remark.  He took the roll out
of Ferail’s hand and stuffed it into one of his inner pockets.

"I am going to look after this," he observed in a business-like voice.
"We are in a hurry, the road is clear and I’ve got the two dolls in the
car.  What are you going to do with him, Doctor?" he asked, with a
movement of his hand in the direction of Wallion.

"Allow me to make a proposal," said Ferail, taking a step forward.  His
peculiar short breathing made every one look at him.

"Well, what is it?" asked Dixon abruptly.

Ferail’s face twitched, he looked like one possessed, his right hand
wandered to his waistcoat and he drew forth a long, straight, thin
knife.... "This is what I wished to propose," he said.

The knife was as bright as though it had been polished with the utmost
care, and Wallion had not the least doubt that, barely two yards away,
his eyes beheld the weapon which had slain Victor Dreyel, all but killed
Christian and severely wounded Elaine.  Ferail had put his revolver back
in his pocket, he seemed to despise any weapon other than his shining
blade, and he no longer fixed his eyes on Wallion’s face but came closer
up to him....

"Ferail," said the Doctor.

The Greek stood still.

"Your methods are not ours," resumed Corman. "Put that thing away."

Ferail lowered his eyes and stood for a time with head bowed low, then
silently put the knife away.

"That is well," said Wallion, "but I shall not forget your gentle
proposal, Ferail."

The Doctor and his friend exchanged a few inaudible words, whereupon
Dixon said in a loud voice: "The simplest way will be to shut him up in
that little room down there."

Doctor Corman nodded assent, and turning to Wallion: "Come along," he
said, in a tone of command.  "Go down the stairs in front of me, and
take my word for it that I will shoot you down without the slightest
compunction at the very first attempt of escape."

"Thanks, your attitude with regard to the fifth commandment is original,
very," replied Wallion, and laughed as he made his way past his
adversaries.  In the corridor he stopped to light a cigar, and then went
quickly down the stairs.

The Doctor threw open a door on the right, and with a sardonic smile
motioned to Wallion to go in.  Wallion, knowing that resistance would
prove as fatal as suicide, resigned himself with apparent submission to
the inevitable, and obeyed.  The door closed upon him with a mighty
bang.

He was left to himself in a cell even smaller than the one occupied by
Robertson, while the bars of its window were more massive.  It was
sparsely lighted by a lamp suspended from the ceiling, but far out of
reach, and the window also was set a good yard beyond the thick bars
inside.  There was not a stick of furniture of any kind.  Wallion tried
the door; it was of solid oak, with a lock impossible to negotiate from
the inside.

"A regular prison cell," growled Wallion. "I wonder for whom it was
originally intended."

He tried to look out, but the darkness outside prevented him from seeing
anything, and he could not extinguish the lamp.  He hoped most sincerely
that Tom Murner would return to town and give information to the police
that he had mysteriously disappeared, but presently, with silent scorn
for his weakness, he remembered that he had not given Tom any
instructions in case of such a contingency.

He heard footsteps and voices, both within and without, and realized
that his last hope was gone....  He heard Tom Murner’s voice in the
entrance hall.  He could not catch his words distinctly, but he heard
the Doctor reply, "Yes, he is here.  Do come in, you are very welcome,
Mr. Murner."

Tom’s voice seemed to draw near and sounded somewhat suspicious.

"Can I speak to him at once?" he said.

"Yes, of course....  This way, please."

The steps came nearer and Tom asked from outside, "Is Wallion here?"

"Yes, here he is, you need only walk in."

The door of the cell was opened, Tom was roughly pushed in, then it was
slammed to again and sounds of loud, derisive laughter came from the
hall.  Tom picked himself up half-dazed. "You, too?" he said, lamely.
Wallion made a wry face—he no longer felt any inclination to smile—and
merely said: "As you see."

A dazzling light passed the window; the lamps of the motor car were
being lighted ... Sounds in the distance indicated that it had started.



                             *CHAPTER XIV*

                    *ELAINE’S SECOND DISAPPEARANCE*


Wallion looked thoughtfully at the lamp. Then he took out his clasp
knife, and with unerring aim, hurled it at the globe, which fell to the
ground in countless pieces, and left the room pitch dark.

"What in the world did you do that for?" cried Tom.

"That I might look out," said Wallion, leaning against the window-bars,
and gazing eagerly out into the night.  The lights of the car below came
round a turn of the drive and a black mass could be seen making its way
towards the gate. Both men caught a glimpse of Elaine’s head in the car
before it was lost in the darkness.  Tom nearly yelled:

"Oh, the wretches, they are taking her away."

"She is going with them of her own free will," said Wallion wearily.
"Be quiet and let me think."

He sat down and crossed his legs, leaning against the wall, with closed
eyes.  After a time he began to relate all that had happened since he
had got into the house.

"So you will understand that she has not the slightest idea of what goes
on here, and that, in a way, makes her position more difficult," he
concluded.  "There is a possibility of their wanting to keep her as a
sort of hostage, for she can scarcely have any further information to
give them...."  Here he stopped in order to think a little, "I wish I
could have saved Robertson’s notes," he continued, "then we might,
perhaps, know where they are going now."

His cool, deliberate tone irritated Tom.

"I consider we have behaved like consummate idiots," he burst out.

"Yes, I have especially," Wallion drily confessed.  There was something
in his voice which filled Tom with self-reproach.

"Forgive me," he said, "I am almost beside myself."

Wallion pressed his hand in the dark.

"I am thinking about those dolls," he volunteered.  "What Robertson said
about a list of twelve who were the real owners, taken in conjunction
with Victor Dreyel’s words when he said the dolls were ’likenesses of
the dead’ which bring misfortune to the ’living,’ has put a queer notion
into my head.  The figures were all numbered and we have seen sundry
numbers up to twelve.  Possibly these images really represent the
’genuine’ proprietors, and there should be exactly twelve....  How does
that strike you?"

"It sounds very likely," replied Tom.

"We have come across all the uneven numbers," Wallion went on, "in a way
which rather seems to indicate that the uneven numbers are of no value.
The figure that was stolen from Victor Dreyel bore the number 12 and the
one his cousin had was marked 6.  In what way, do you suppose, can the
even numbers be of more value than the odd ones?  The uneven numbers
stood alone, but under No. 6 and No. 12 were some other numbers in
addition, 29" and 33".  Let us take the even numbers 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 and
12, and when we divide them into two groups we find on the last in each
group the numbers 29" and 33".  Now make a shot at something ... guess!"

"No, I don’t take that in," said Tom, "what are you aiming at?"

"Purely a supposition, just imaginary," replied Wallion.  "Let us assume
that in the year 1902 there were twelve men, proprietors of a gold-mine
in Alaska, that the majority of these fell victims to some unexpected
calamity; and that the few who survived returned, sorely disappointed,
to civilized life.  One of these, no doubt, was William Robertson, and
two others, Victor and Christian Dreyel, cousins.  Well then, if for
some reason or other Robertson wished to record the longitude and
latitude of the mine on the dolls, which bore even numbers, the degrees,
minutes and seconds, you understand ... one number on each figure ...
the seconds would fall to No. 6 and No. 12."

At last Tom seemed to comprehend his friend’s theory.

"Yes, of course," he cried aloud, "and if the situation of the mine can
be pretty accurately located the numbers referring to the seconds are
indispensible.  That was why Robertson sent Nos. 6 and 12 to the Dreyel
cousins for safety, and why Ferail began his murderous work. Wallion,
you have solved the mystery of King Solomon."

Wallion shook his head.

"No," he said.  "I fancy I am pretty near it, though.  Who is No. 13
Toroni?  Where does he hail from?  As I have represented things there
are still various discrepancies.  Can a mine disappear so entirely in
the space of sixteen years?  Could those fellows that drove away in
Dixon’s car have set to work in peace and quiet to exploit a stolen
gold-mine?  Why did not Robertson and the Dreyels go back again if it
could be worked anew?  No, King Solomon remains a riddle to us, my
friend."

Tom relapsed into his former state of depression. What was the use of
speculating when Elaine might be on the road to renewed dangers? He
jumped up and began a wild attack on the door.  "We must get out of
this!" he said angrily.

Wallion, who had risen, walked to the window, turned round sharply, and
said:

"Pull yourself together, man, in five minutes relief will come."

Tom, bewildered, muttered: "How?"  Half hopeful, half in doubt.

"I rather think McTuft is standing by the gate," was Wallion’s laconic
reply as he fumbled for his knife, which he threw with all his might
against the window between the bars; the panes broke with a crash which
in the dead silence could be heard for a great distance, and almost
immediately light footsteps sounded on the gravel outside.

"McTuft!" Wallion called out.

"Here I am," answered the Scotsman below. "Whatever are you doing there,
Mr. Wallion?" he asked with apparent interest.  "I thought the house was
empty."

"We are shut up," replied Wallion briefly. "Creep in as best you can and
open the door for us; I will knock so that you will know which door."

McTuft whistled softly and ran round to the entrance.  After a seemingly
endless time the door sprang open and they were free.  McTuft could
hardly restrain his curiosity.

In a few words Wallion told him what had happened, and fixing his eyes
on the Scotsman, said:

"So you have lost Ferail?"

"Yes, the scoundrel made his way over the roof," said McTuft, visibly
affected.  "I did not know it was a habit of his....  Anyhow, I traced
him here," he added.

"Well, by this time he is probably a good distance away from here, but I
am not going to find fault with you on that account, McTuft, you helped
so cleverly with the doors; did you come alone?"

"No, with my assistant, who is now waiting with the car a little way
down the road."

"Splendid, call him up quick," said Wallion, as he ran upstairs.  He
unlocked the door of Robertson’s cell, half afraid of what he might see
within, but to his great relief he found the man in bed, lying on his
back as before.

"Anybody been here?" he asked

"The Doctor looked in once without saying anything," replied Robertson,
who sat up as soon as Wallion came in, more wide awake and expectant
than he had seen him yet.  "What has been going on?  I heard steps and
voices.... Where is my daughter?"

"You must take things quietly now," said Wallion kindly.  "I can’t
explain matters just at present, but there is nothing to be alarmed
about.  Your daughter has left the house, but you will have news of her
soon.  You have done with your tormentors now, for good and all, and I
shall put you under the care of a really trustworthy person."

At this point McTuft and his assistant, a young, pleasant-looking
official named Johnstone, entered the room.

"There are two things you must do, Johnstone," was Wallion’s greeting as
he hurriedly scribbled a few lines on a card.  "First of all you must
take Mr. Robertson to the Pacific Hotel, give this card to the manager
and see that he is properly looked after.  Secondly, alarm the police.
They must track the individuals whose names I have written down: Edward
A. Dixon, Doctor Augustus N. Corman, Madame Lorraine and Ricardo Ferail,
commonly called ’Toroni’; the last is guilty of murder, the others are
accomplices."

Johnstone wrote down the names.

"They have only just driven away in Dixon’s car, and under false
pretenses induced Miss Elaine Robertson to accompany them," said Wallion
more deliberately.  "Her father, Mr. Robertson, need not be told, but he
may give information respecting their motives and actions; got that
down?"

"Yes," answered the young official with enthusiasm and, grinning at
McTuft, observed: "’Hotel Dixon’ is in for it this time.  Just think of
it!"

"That’s good," said Wallion, "but you must provide yourselves with
another car, the one that is here we shall want for ourselves; _au
revoir_, Mr. Robertson, and don’t you worry," he concluded, shaking
hands heartily with the bewildered man, after which he hurried away.

It was past eleven, and darker than ever, when Wallion, Murner and
McTuft ran down the drive to the gates.  By the light of McTuft’s
pocket-lamp they could distinctly see the traces of Dixon’s car on the
damp road.

"They have taken a northerly direction, probably for the coast..." said
McTuft.

They got into the car, and McTuft, who knew the country well, took the
wheel; there was no need for any deliberation on the way, both Wallion
and Tom knew exactly what to do.  Dixon and his associates must be taken
at any cost, in the least possible space of time, and sent to prison.
Tom said nothing, but he was prepared. The picture of Elaine’s sweet,
innocent face among such repulsive surroundings as "Silent" Ferail’s
Assyrian profile, Doctor Corman’s satanic features and mocking smile,
and Dixon’s Nero-like head, almost drove him frantic.

The motor flew along like an arrow and left Corman’s dark, empty house
far behind; the lights of Seattle disappeared from sight and all that
lay before them was a desolate, white road, leading ... where?



                              *CHAPTER XV*

                         *HOTEL "GOLDEN SNAKE"*


A cool breeze was blowing from the sea, and far away in Puget Sound
hoarse and peculiar signals, proceeding from an invisible steamer,
filled the air.  The last breath of wind, however, soon ceased, the
atmosphere grew more oppressive and finally resolved itself into fog.
The motor rushed on with careless speed, the impulsive, gruff Scotsman
proving himself an ideal chauffeur.  Fortunately, at that hour the road
was almost deserted, and by the white light of the lamps the traces of
Dixon’s car, in double, unbroken lines, were plainly visible.  All at
once McTuft remarked:

"One would think they were making for the Canadian frontier."

"They won’t get there," said Wallion, "it’s much too far."

"Well, it is a good bit off, as you say," assented McTuft drily, "and I
guess Johnstone has given the alarm by now."

They were getting near the water and, still following the track, they
turned into a road which it seemed likely ran parallel with the shore in
a northwesterly direction.

"Perhaps they intend going on board some vessel," suggested Tom
uneasily.

"I was just thinking the same thing," Wallion answered.

At the same moment McTuft put on the brake, for a lad of about fifteen
was coming from the opposite direction on a bicycle, and the Scotsman
called out:

"Hallo, boy!"

"Boy yourself," retorted the lad, stopping. "Say, is there a motor-race
on this evening, eh?"

"Have you met a black-covered car?"

"I have, and, my eye, it could run too; it dashed past me like a shot."

"How long since you saw it?"

"Ten minutes or so."

McTuft started the car and remarked: "They haven’t got far ahead."
Trees and bushes flew past and the travelers felt as if they were
sitting still in the midst of a hurricane.  Black pools of water were
visible on the left, as they rushed past detached villas and groups of
houses on the sea front.  Now and then they met a car, which carefully
turned aside to let them pass, and in a few seconds was left far in the
rear.

But shortly afterwards, when the car was beginning to toil up a long
ascent, almost parallel with the beach, McTuft again applied his brakes,
and pulled up in front of a signboard which read:

                         G O L D E N  S N A K E
                              SUMMER HOTEL

A gravel path led to a dark, high building which rose almost from the
edge of the water.  Near it was a tennis lawn, and further away a
landing-stage for motor-boats, a long line of bathing machines and
several villas.  McTuft pointed to the roadway.  Evidently Dixon’s car
had pulled up for a few minutes by the side gate and then started again.
A sleepy, uncouth individual in slippers and shirt sleeves was about to
slink into the hotel by the kitchen entrance when a shout from McTuft
stopped him.

"You, over there, come here!"  The man turned and came slowly.

"Golden Snake Hotel!  Curious name that for a summer hotel," said
Wallion.

"It’s named after this little bay which is called Golden Snake Bay,"
volunteered McTuft; "newly erected.  Meant to make this into a
fashionable watering-place, I guess, but I don’t think it will attract
many visitors—one of Dixon’s unsuccessful speculations."

"What?  Is this one of Dixon’s Summer hotels?" asked Wallion in
surprise.  "If so..."  He rose hurriedly and jumped out of the car.

By this time the man had come up, and Wallion inquired.

"Are you in Mr. Dixon’s employ?"

"I am," said the man, and yawned.

"Your employer’s car pulled up here a little while ago, didn’t it?"

The man nodded.

"Well, what did he want? ... Now answer me quick or it will be the worse
for you."

The man blinked his malicious, inquisitive eyes in the light, and
scratched his head.

"Now then," said McTuft harshly ... "No nonsense."

"He had one of our chauffeurs called up from bed and took him," said the
man reluctantly. "I can quite understand he must have been awfully tired
driving the car himself all that time."

"Then he drove on again, I suppose; how long ago was that?"

"Five ... ten minutes, maybe."

Wallion looked closely at the man in slippers but remained dumb.  McTuft
gave vent to a war-whoop, he was madly impatient.

"Quick, get in again, Mr. Wallion, and let us be after them."

"No," said Wallion, "I stay here."

"What’s that you say? ... You want to remain here? ... But what about
the car?"

The Scotsman’s red hair seemed to stand on end; he had taken off his cap
and was staring at Wallion as at one who had suddenly taken leave of his
senses.

"Can I speak to the landlord?" said Wallion, turning to the man, who
stood there gaping.

"He has gone away, the hotel is closed for alterations."

"But it seems that there are chauffeurs?"

"Yes, we have the garage to let."

"We are wasting time," said McTuft in despair.  Wallion looked at him
and smiled.

"You are right, McTuft, I have changed my plans.  Go after Dixon’s car
at once and stop it; perhaps Murner and I will come on later; no arguing
... be off."  Wallion had spoken in a tone of command.  The Scotsman
straightened himself, bit his lip, and said, "All right."

Tom had only just time to get out before the car started and disappeared
round the corner.

"What does all this mean?" asked Tom confusedly.

"It means," replied Wallion, "that McTuft, who is stubborn, is getting
his own way, that the black car won’t be running much further, and that
the Golden Snake Hotel is much too interesting to be passed by..."

He pounced upon the sleepy man and caught him somewhat savagely by the
arm.

"What is your job here?" he asked gruffly.

"Night watchman," came the sullen answer.

"Good," said Wallion, hustling the man in front of him along the gravel
path towards the hotel.

"Then, of course, you can tell me what sort of people have been here
recently and which of them have only just left."  He pointed to the path
where half obliterated marks of many feet were still to be seen.

The man’s knees began to shake and he opened his mouth in dumb despair.

"Look here, my man, we are detectives, so you had better keep a civil
tongue in your head. Well, you say that Dixon had a chauffeur in
readiness here and that the black car went on again with that same
chauffeur at the wheel?"

"Yes," stammered the man.  Wallion seized and shook him like a rat.

"Now about Dixon himself, he got out here, didn’t he?  And his party as
well; don’t try to deny it," said Wallion, in a voice that nearly scared
the man out of his wits.  "They got out here; where are they now?"

The man lifted his hand and with trembling finger—he seemed unable to
speak—pointed to the bay.  Wallion pushed him away.

"To the beach," he said with a frown.  "A boat!  Aha, what is that?
Over there?"

As soon as they passed the corner of the untenanted hotel they obtained
an open view over the smooth water of the bay.  Outside the breakwater
lay a large pleasure yacht, painted white, with steam up.

"What sort of a boat is that?" asked Wallion sharply.

"That ... that is Mr. Dixon’s steam yacht ’Ariadne,’" the man answered
dejectedly.

Wallion looked at Tom.  Both immediately grasped the situation.  Wallion
let go the man’s arms and pointed to the house.

"Go in there and don’t stick even the tip of your nose out of the door."

The man disappeared in the direction of the hotel, and he did not notice
that he had lost his slippers on the way; the treatment he had received
from Wallion had rather dazed him.

Wallion and Tom cast wistful eyes upon the pleasure yacht which lay
proudly on the dark, gleaming water, smoke issuing from the yellow
funnel ... She was evidently ready to start.

"I suppose they are on board already," said Wallion huskily.  "Confound
it all!"

He ran so fast towards the point that Tom could scarcely keep up with
him.  No one was near, but a prolonged whistle from the yacht came
across the water, and Tom wondered whether it might be a signal to some
other boat lying in the offing.  Wallion had already climbed up the
cliffs on the point, and as his silhouette became visible for a moment
under the clear sky Tom fancied he saw him waving his hand.  After much
exertion Tom at last reached the top of the cliff; Wallion was nowhere
to be seen, but when he leant over the rocks, a strange sight met his
eyes.

From the foot of the cliff a boat, manned by four men, shot out into the
water, but the men were sitting still with oars tilted, as if waiting
for some one.  Wallion came walking along the top some little distance
away, heading straight towards the boat, and Tom felt by intuition that
his friend had not noticed the skiff lying below. His voice froze on his
lips—A short, nimble figure had thrown itself upon Wallion from behind,
and both men rolled towards the edge of the cliff.  There followed a
smothered cry, a flash and the report of a shot; at the same time
Wallion’s body was jerked backwards and fell into the water with a
splash.  The short man scrambled hastily down the cliff and jumped into
the boat, which immediately put out to sea.  The beach was silent and
deserted; the whole tragedy had not occupied five minutes and it left
Tom cold, paralyzed and speechless.  He ran like a maniac down to the
place where his friend had disappeared.



                             *CHAPTER XVI*

                            *THE "ARIADNE"*


The catastrophe had come like a thunderbolt, and though Tom did not
doubt either his eyes or his ears, he could not help repeating to
himself: "It can’t be possible, it can’t be true."

He had recognized Ferail’s cat-like movements, had heard the shot and
had seen Wallion fall into the water; he reached the fateful spot
breathless and panting, and gazed into the dark, oily water which seemed
to have no bottom. The cliffs were precipitous, but the water below was
not very deep, though whatever was dropped into it was bound to be swept
out to sea by the receding tide.  Nothing was to be seen.  Tom walked to
and fro in the hope that Wallion might have swum ashore, but no trace of
him could he discover.  On the spot where the short struggle had taken
place he picked up a spent Browning cartridge, that was all.

The boat with the rowers had gone also, and the outlines of the yacht
were obscured by the rocks.  The loneliness and silence fell upon Tom
like a heavy weight; he threw himself down upon the ground, covered his
face with his hands and groaned.  Confused visions floated through his
brain; he must seek help, give the alarm, inform the police ... Ten
minutes went by without a sound save the splashing of the waves over the
pebbles.

When he got up he shook as if from cold, his eyes were blood-shot, and
he was conscious of one thing only, he must get away, he must ... He ran
up the headland; the fog had become more dense and was driven in great
masses from Eliot Bay, which appeared like a dark speck in the distance.
The yacht was lying to about a hundred yards from the point, but its
outlines were blurred and its lights looked like tiny glowworms.  The
sound of chains clanking and cogwheels moving came to the place where he
stood.... They were weighing the anchors ... The ’Ariadne’ was evidently
putting out to sea.

He rushed back to the landing-stage near the hotel—without further
thought he had made up his mind.  He was benumbed with pain and cold,
and Ferail’s repulsive features constantly rose up before him.  How he
longed to twist his fingers round the monster’s throat!  Wild, brutal
impulses came over him like fits of ague; he saw red, sparks flew before
his eyes ... Then there was Elaine, where had they taken her to, what
was the fate in store for her?  He set his teeth.  Elaine must be saved
at all costs.

Half-hidden under the landing-stage he discovered a small rowing boat;
he jumped into it, cut the rope by which it was secured and laid hold of
the oars.

The ’Ariadne’s’ propeller had begun to work, its rhythmical din seemed
very near, and when he turned his head the green light on the starboard
was only a few yards away; the yacht passed at half speed.  Tom made a
violent effort and the little boat lightly grazed the gleaming white
side of the ’Ariadne.’  The lifeboat still swung from the davits and the
end of a rope dangled within his reach; he seized it and hauled himself
up; the little row-boat disappeared from under his feet and went dancing
off on the cool waters.  He climbed the rail and tumbled down on the
deck, where he lay with beating heart, expecting a cry of alarm to be
raised; but none came.  The quarter-deck was deserted, but, immediately
in front of him, under an awning, he could see the stairs leading down
to the cabins. A table and three basket-chairs stood by their side;
further on was a shelter and over all rose the captain’s bridge, whence
came the sound of voices, the only signs of life he could detect on
board at that moment.

The yacht was larger than one would have supposed, seeing it from the
land.  It was clearly quite an up-to-date vessel of 500 tons, fitted
with wireless, installed between the two lofty masts; under the awning
an electric lamp was burning.

Tom was just going to pick himself up when two figures emerged from the
stairs.  Doctor Corman and Ferail were both smoking and had their coat
collars turned up as a protection against the fog.

"Well, yes, I was rather taken aback when I caught sight of that devil
of a Swede on the headland," said Ferail, as if he were resuming an
interrupted conversation.  "I thought he had seen the rowing boat, but I
made the men conceal it under the rocks, and when Wallion came down he
looked rather surprised....  I could have laughed if I had had time."

The doctor growled out something and Ferail continued, "Yes, with the
knife, but he snatched it from me, and I had to shoot him instead; the
bullet hit him between the ribs and he fell backwards into the water ...
the water there is pretty deep, so we need not worry about him any
more."  A guttural sound which might have been interpreted as a laugh
escaped Ferail’s throat.  "I told the men that I had only been settling
up old scores with one of those ’black ones,’ and they thought...."

Corman and Ferail went out of earshot.

Tom felt a wild desire to hurl himself upon the criminal, but he pulled
himself together. They ascended the bridge and disappeared.

Tom lay completely stupefied.  It was true then, incontrovertibly true,
that Maurice Wallion was dead ... yet every fiber in his body seemed to
repudiate the idea; he felt it unreasonable to believe that his strong,
cool, stout-hearted friend, after Sherlock Holmes the cleverest expert
in criminal cases, could in a single moment have been silenced for ever
by this Greek imposter, this despicable monster.  He buried his face in
his hands ...

"I don’t understand what is going on, but at any rate I must try to pull
myself together ... because now I must do the work of two."

He knew he was dead tired.  Gradually the yacht put on full steam, and
the ripple of the water on the bows melted into a steady swish-swish.
Like a sword through the fog shone the white rays of a searchlight.

Tom rose with a sigh of weariness; he felt stiff in every joint, and
with a last remnant of clear intellect he said to himself: "I must bide
my time....  If they discover me now I am lost."

He fixed his aching eyes upon the rocking life-boat. No, not that one;
unsteadily he staggered over to the boat on the larboard, which was
properly made fast and covered with a tarpaulin, under which he crept
and lay at full length at the bottom; thinking that, for the present, at
least, he would be safe there.  No one suspected that he was on board,
and no one would look for him there.

                     *      *      *      *      *

At frequent intervals the siren on the yacht shrieked and was answered
by signals from other vessels.  The "Ariadne," with full steam up, sped
through the fog, which entirely prevented Tom from forming any idea of
his bearings.  Neither land nor water could be distinguished.  He heard
steps approaching and a deep voice which could be none other than
Dixon’s said:

"Well, Captain, we will go straight to Hurricane Island now.  Think we
can do it in three days and three nights?  That is the time the last
voyage took us, I remember."

"Oh yes, Mr. Dixon," replied another voice, clear, yet respectful and
decisive.  "We will do our best; the ’Ariadne’ is a good girl, and I
suppose you are in a desperate hurry this time?"

"Never was in such a hurry in all my life before," said the owner of the
yacht, in an amicable tone.

"H—m," said the captain, "we may have a storm, for at this time of year
Hurricane Island deserves the name.  If we don’t, I promise you we shall
be there by Thursday morning, Mr. Dixon."

"Not so bad," said Dixon.  "Thursday morning then, eh?"  He went down
the stairs and the captain returned to the bridge.

"Hurricane Island," thought Tom, "whereever is Hurricane Island?"  He
made an effort to think over what he had heard, but the noise of the
machinery dulled his tired brain and with the raw, foggy air in his
nostrils, he fell into a heavy sleep.



                               *PART III*

                           *HURRICANE ISLAND*



                             *CHAPTER XVII*

                   *TORONI REASSUMES HIS RIGHT NAME*


When Tom woke the sun was shining in between the tarpaulin and the rail
of the boat, the air was mild—fanned by a feeble breeze—and the yacht
rode easily.

Tom had to collect his scattered thoughts before he could remember where
he was, and when he did get a clear idea of the situation a shudder ran
through him.  With great care he raised the tarpaulin and took a look
round.  The "Ariadne" seemed to be in the open sea, only from the
starboard could he discern a faint blue outline of land; the waves rose
and fell in gentle undulations which reflected the sun’s rays, the fog
was gone and the sky was almost cloudless. The fresh air revived him and
he took a deep breath.  Some distance off he saw two of the crew,
barefoot, scrubbing and flushing the decks, and on the bridge he noticed
the broad back of the captain.  Tom looked at his watch. It was twenty
minutes to one, and he had slept more than twelve hours!

The captain slowly turned round, and Tom again ducked down under the
tarpaulin.  He began to consider what he should do; but what could he do
all alone?  He clenched his hands until the knuckles grew white as he
reviewed the terrible events of the previous night; but now he was
better able to consider his position calmly, he rejected one after
another, as impractical, his plans for revenge or escape.  He did not
even possess a revolver, nor did he know anything about the footing on
which the captain and crew might stand with the three men who were his
foes; perhaps they were all tarred with the same brush; anyhow, Dixon
was the master or employer, and as Tom had no proofs, he was unarmed in
a double sense.  He spent an hour in fruitless brooding.

The name of Hurricane Island recurred to his mind.  What sort of place
might that be? There were islands all along the coast from Seattle to
the Bering Sea, an archipelago hundreds of miles in extent, full of
hiding-places and possibilities for lawless adventurers.  The time
mentioned for the duration of the voyage—three days and three nights—and
his limited knowledge of geography gave him nothing to go upon, nor was
he able to calculate the "Ariadne’s" speed, although it appeared very
fair.  He began to feel hungry; that was a new trouble, difficult of
solution.  He remembered having read that lifeboats were always provided
with fresh water and necessaries in case of sudden emergency, and he set
about searching the boat surreptitiously, but found nothing.

"I shall have to wait till it is night, but something will have to be
done then, for they shall not take me with my consent."

A stoical calm came over him; he understood that he could not do
anything before darkness set in, and he lay down and shut his eyes in an
endeavor to forget the cravings of his inner man.

Hours passed, the sun flitted from east to west, and the yacht kept on
her course.  Tom hoped the passengers would come on deck; the thought of
Elaine, especially, filled him with longing; but no one came, and the
deck remained deserted.  The strip of land seen from the starboard had
dwindled into blue mist, and all around nothing was to be seen but sea
and sky; the setting sun dyed the horizon a dark, glowing red, and there
thin banks of cloud stained it with a deeper hue and ever and again with
fleeting gold.

Tom grew hot all over when he heard Doctor Corman’s voice quite close to
him, saying:

"It was lucky that we had the ’Ariadne’ to go to, otherwise we should
not have been able to carry out our plans."

"You have always been a skeptic," Dixon answered.  "The job is as good
as finished, the plan worked like clock-work....  Now we have only to
reap the reward of our labor."

They had evidently come up the gangway, for Tom not only smelt a whiff
of tobacco but heard the creaking of basket-chairs and the clinking of
glasses.  Then there was a lull, and Torn could not resist the
temptation to look over the edge of the boat.

Dixon, Corman and Ferail were comfortably installed in chairs round the
table upon which bottles and glasses had been set.  Dixon was rather red
in the face; perhaps his dinner had been extra good, thought Tom, not
without a touch of envy.

"Reward for our labor," exclaimed Dixon, with a laugh of greedy
anticipation.  "It was a difficult task to engineer, but with those two
dolls in our hands all the rest is mere child’s play."

"We shall, of course, be obliged to give up the ’Ariadne,’" said Corman.
"We have left a pretty tangle behind us as it is, and, if I am not
mistaken, that business of yours at Seattle will be thoroughly
investigated."

Dixon again burst into a laugh.  "I don’t deny that I was rather too old
to make a good man of business, but my last deal was certainly my best.
Of course, the ’Ariadne’ must be sacrificed after Thursday next, as a
description of her will be wired to every port and every boat to-day or
to-morrow.  So far, our own wireless has not received any little
greeting; but don’t you worry, it is sure to come."

"That’s so, but our agreement is quite clear," put in Corman.

"To go shares and dissolve partnership at once?" laughed Dixon.  "From
Hurricane Island it is easy enough to get to Canada, and then I myself
mean to go by the name of Christopher Cummings.  What are you going to
call yourself, Ferail?"

"From now till Thursday I insist on being known as Toroni," the Greek
replied, in a muffled tone.  "I am sick of the name of Ferail—it has a
flavor of sour wine in my mouth; call me ... Toroni."

The two others looked at him in surprise, and yet as if they were used
to his unaccountable outbursts of frantic rage and annoyance and could
never be sure of his enigmatical temper. It was clear he inspired them
with a sort of repulsive curiosity.

After a pause Dixon said, "As you like," and, raising his glass, he
continued: "I propose a toast to Toroni, the name borne by a man who
plotted and carried through one of the most brilliant transactions of
the last ten years."  His tone was a mixture of condescension and
contempt.

They drank it, Toroni in gloomy silence; the doctor with a sharp,
mocking laugh.

"In any case, my much esteemed friend Toroni," said Dixon, after
momentary reflection, "it would be advisable to confine the use of your
illustrious name to ourselves, or Elaine might take it into her head to
have an attack of hysterics, and Captain Hawkins ... ha, ha, ha!"  He
concluded, overcome by a fit of hilarity: "It was a splendid idea of
yours to pose as an Italian detective charged by the Government to
investigate the secret affairs of the ’Black Hand’.... Detective Ferail,
to whom I afforded my valuable assistance solely in the interests of the
community. The captain and the crew are making themselves quite ill,
racking their brains to find out what on earth you want to do on
Hurricane Island.  Well, old man, the comedy is too good to be
spoilt....  Officially you are obliged to answer to the name of
Ferail....  Good Heavens, man, we are about to pocket six million
dollars in gold, pure gold, and you can be squeamish about a name!"

Dixon began to get excited, his voice grew louder and louder, and the
doctor hurriedly seized his glass in order to put a stop to his
half-crazy flow of words.

"A toast," said Corman, drily, "a toast to the six millions!"

His timely intervention saved the situation.

There was a bright light in Dixon’s shifty and evil eyes as he raised
his glass to drink the toast. "In gold, pure gold," he said.

Toroni did not look up nor did he touch his glass.  Dixon fumbled with
his hands in his great coat pockets, from which he produced two objects
which he placed on the table; they were the two wooden dolls.

Tom recognized the one which had been in the possession of Victor
Dreyel; the other had, undoubtedly, belonged to Christian Dreyel.  The
small figures glowed blood-red in the light of the setting sun.  Tom
gazed at them with a shudder, even the doctor seemed uncomfortable.

"Throw them overboard," he said abruptly; "they are no longer wanted."

"Throw them overboard?" retorted Dixon, reproachfully.  "Our constant
guardians, with whom Toroni had no end of trouble before he sent them to
my place....  Never.  I want to have them constantly before my eyes
until the gold has seen the light of day, and then I shall return them
to Robertson as a little souvenir."

Overheated with whisky and joyful anticipation, he unbuttoned his coat,
took it off and threw it down upon a chair.  "Poor old Robertson!" he
soliloquized as he mixed himself another drink.  "Things weren’t very
comfortable for him when he was your patient, you old compounder of
poisons, you!"

Doctor Corman’s face assumed an ashen hue, the eyes under his pince-nez
flashed; but he restrained himself, and a painful silence ensued. It
dawned upon Dixon that he had said too much, and he looked persistently
at his cigar. At last Toroni lifted his tawny eyelids and said: "Talking
of Robertson ... what do you intend to do with his daughter?"

That was a matter which had long occupied Tom’s thoughts and now sent a
shiver down his spine.  Dixon became suddenly sober, and the doctor cast
down his eyes without saying a word or moving a muscle.  The silence
seemed unending. At last Dixon said, impatiently, "Bah, Elaine?  We
brought her with us for otherwise she might have been a witness, but
I..."

There was a rustling of silk on the stairs, and Madame Lorraine hurried
up.  She looked at the three men with undisguised loathing.

"Are you aware that the skylight above the saloon is open?" she asked.

"What do you mean?" inquired Corman, with some asperity.  Each of them
cast a quick glance at the skylight, which was indeed half-open.

"Only that I went into the saloon just now and found Elaine there."  The
three looked at one another.

"Think she heard?" the doctor asked.

"I can’t say, but I heard every word you uttered ... distinctly."

"How did she look?"

"Much as usual," said Madame Lorraine, and left them.

Dixon had regained his self-control as if he had never tasted a drop of
whisky; he took up the two wooden dolls and made his way to the stairs.
At the first step he stopped, turned and gazed at them earnestly.

"Bah!" he said again.  "If she had heard anything she would have
screamed."  Then he went down and the other two followed him.  Tom
breathed again; it was only now he remembered that he had been kneeling
in the boat, with his head well over the edge, and that any one who
chanced to look that way might easily have seen him.  It was a miracle,
indeed, that he had not been seen; but he had no time even to send a
grateful thought to his guardian angel, for his mind was fully taken up
with what he had just heard.  Moreover, his attention was rivetted upon
Dixon’s overcoat, which had been left lying cm a chair, carelessly flung
over the back of it, half-open, so that Tom could see a packet done up
in oilcloth protruding from an inner pocket. He remembered what Wallion
had told him about the scene at the asylum, and he realized that within
five yards of him lay those precious papers of William Robertson’s.  His
fingers itched, an irresistible desire seized him; he must have those
papers and read them.

The sun had set, and twilight was beginning to melt into night; there
was no one to be seen either on the bridge or on the upper deck ... nor
was there any sound from the gangway.  He got out of the boat
noiselessly and walked warily towards the coat.

At the same instant a hand from the back of the cabin deck abstracted
the roll from the coat pocket and disappeared.



                            *CHAPTER XVIII*

                     *THE STORY OF "KING SOLOMON"*


To say the least of it, Tom was stunned: the packet had been seized with
such lightning rapidity that he had scarcely even seen the mysterious
hand.  At first, after his consternation at seeing the key to the secret
disappear in such a way, just when he had felt it in his grasp, he could
hardly collect his thoughts; it overwhelmed him.

Thoroughly exasperated and throwing prudence to the winds, he darted
forward, intent on getting that packet back from this extraordinary
thief.  There was no one anywhere near the cabins; he closely examined
all of them. The invisible thief was nowhere to be found.  It was still
light enough for him to be able to distinguish every detail on the upper
deck; there was no hiding-place large enough for a cat, let alone a
human being, and Tom experienced a sudden feeling of dread.  "Whatever
is it?" he thought.  "Am I beginning to have delusions ... or to see
visions?"

He heard Captain Hawkins’ voice on the bridge, and he was fearful lest
he should be discovered.  Deadly white, he turned to port and climbed
back into the boat.  Just as he was about to lie down and pull the
tarpaulin over him, he felt a strong arm pressing him down and a hand
was laid over his mouth.

"Not a sound," said a low, deep voice, "it is I."

Tom’s heart jumped into his mouth and then began to beat violently.

"Wallion?" he whispered, wild with delight and relief.  "Oh, Maurice, I
thought I should never hear your voice again," and he flung his arms
round his friend’s neck.

The Problem Solver was quite himself, but in the calm gray eyes it was
easy to read how glad he was to see Tom.

"How in the world did you get here?" asked the latter, breathlessly.
"Toroni was positive he had shot you, and I myself saw you..."

"Oh, no; things don’t go so easily as that," answered Wallion.  "When
Toroni fired his shot I pretended to stagger, and fell backwards into
the sea.  I thought it was a good opportunity to let him think I was out
of the reckoning.  He is a splendid shot, though he is still more expert
with the knife.  So I did a dive, swam out a good distance, and when I
came up again the row-boat was just starting.  Then after swimming a
little farther I let the boat pass, and followed it at a convenient
distance as far as the yacht; and when you came up I was lying snugly
hidden in the starboard boat.  Had you chosen that retreat we should
have been in one another’s company from the first; still it is just as
well you didn’t, as for a little while I had to hide in a deck-cabin,
whilst they turned out and cleaned the boat.  I was afraid to wake you
during the night, and by day it was, of course, impossible ... but how
are you off for food?"

Tom put on a woeful expression and Wallion grinned.

"I’ve got a little something to begin with," he said, producing two long
loaves, a tin of salmon, a piece of smoked sausage and two bottles of
beer.

Tom must be excused for not doing more than casting a look of
thanksgiving up to the sky by way of gratitude, as he fell upon the
feast. With the aid of his knife Wallion skilfully opened the tin,
uncorked the bottles without the least noise, and both set to with a
voracious appetite.

"What do you think of the conversation among our three fellow
travelers?" asked Wallion after a pause.

Tom, having appeased the most insistent pangs of hunger, said, with a
touch of curiosity: "Then you heard it too?"

"Yes, I had made myself quite comfortable in the cabin; Dixon is a fine
fellow, isn’t he?  You didn’t seem to worry though; any one might have
seen your head a thousand yards away...."

"You didn’t trouble either," retorted Tom. "Of course, I was rather
taken aback when the packet disappeared before my very eyes."

Wallion laughed and held it up.

"You see, in spite of that, the thing hasn’t got lost," he said.  He
untied the string and unrolled the oilcloth, revealing several sheets of
note-paper, covered with writing in a bold, clear hand.

"Let us take advantage of the daylight remaining and read William
Robertson’s notes whilst we are still undisturbed."

He smiled at Tom as he said: "Do you know I am beginning to feel quite
nervous, for in another ten minutes the King Solomon secret and the
purpose of the wooden dolls will be known to us?  Such moments are well
worth all the trouble engendered by one’s vague speculations.... Just
now I would not exchange these scraps of paper for the six millions
Dixon talked about."

It almost looked as if he were going to postpone the reading.

"Quick, quick, I am dying to know..." ejaculated Tom.

"Well, we deserve it," said Wallion.  Spreading out the documents, he
bent over them and began to read.  William Robertson’s notes had the
following introduction:


"Below will be found a true and, as far as possible, complete account of
the destruction of the ’King Solomon,’ set down here that, in case of my
death, it may prove of use to those who have an indisputable right to
the precious contents of that ship.

"On August the fifteenth, 1902, the full-rigged American cutter, ’King
Solomon’ started from Nome in Alaska for Seattle.  The owners were
Fraser, Hutchinson and Co., of Seattle, but this firm ceased to exist
many years ago.  On that voyage the vessel (500 tons) was commanded by
Captain John P. Howell.  Though not quite new, it was well-equipped; the
crew consisted of eleven men only, because ten others had gone to the
gold-fields.  The insufficient number left was probably one of the
causes of the disaster which overtook the ship later.  There were
thirteen passengers on board, twelve of whom were diggers, and a heap of
gold as well.  I, the undersigned, was also there, accompanied by Sandy
McCormick, a Scotchman, and my two Swedish friends, Victor and Christian
Dreyel; we four had been working a claim discovered by McCormick in the
course of the summer, and each, of us had gold on him to about the value
of 200,000 dollars.  We soon made acquaintance with the other
passengers, of whom Craig Russel, a splendid man of the indomitable
bandit type, nicknamed ’crazy or looney Russel’ was the most important,
seeing he had with him gold to the tune of 1,200,000 dollars.  The other
twelve were: Nicholas Sanderson, an elderly, quiet, unobtrusive
Englishman; Aaron Payter; ’Colonel’ Hyppolite Xerxes Symes, a
well-educated, merry mulatto; Frederick O’Bryan, an Irishman; Jean
Rameau, a Canadian; Phil Murray and Walter Randolph, two young
Englishmen.  The amount each one of these had on him in gold is recorded
in the accompanying list.

"The thirteenth passenger, however, was a stranger unknown to any of us;
he had no gold whatever, and his name was Toroni.  No one knew where he
hailed from, for he kept silent and aloof; but he was supposed to be an
Italian.  His melancholy demeanor seemed to presage ill-luck, and had a
most depressing influence on all of us; so he was called ’No. 13
Toroni.’

"On board ’Looney Russel’ was, so to say, boss.  We, who with
indescribable trouble and hard work, had wrested treasure from the
desert, felt on our way back to civilized life like rich men; and
naturally, we were constantly in a jovial frame of mind which did not
always find vent in the choicest expressions.

"The gold, mostly well-washed nuggets, was in leather sacks, sealed, and
packed in oak chests with iron bands.  These chests or boxes—small, but
too heavy for one man to lift—were fifteen in number, each being
inscribed with a name.  They were piled up in the saloon, and constant
watch kept over them.  Wild scenes took place in that saloon, in which
gold to the amount of nearly six million dollars was stored.

"’Looney’ Russel, by reason of his wealth and his tremendous physical
strength, had constituted himself king of the revels; whisky flowed in
streams, and gambling and drink were the order of the day.  Russel,
O’Brien, Rameau and Murray were the most inveterate gamblers, and hardly
left the poker-table night or day.  Toroni very soon chummed up with
them; why I don’t know, as he had never been looked upon with favor.

"Captain Howell tried to put a stop to these orgies, but failed.  The
second day of the voyage there was a great storm, the ’King Solomon,’
running before the wind, with top and foresail in ribbons.  She had
carried too much canvas as we were all anxious to get on ahead, but most
of the desperadoes were too drunk to be of much use. Only the cousins
Dreyel, the commander, and I, knew the state the crew were in, and
foresaw, with great uneasiness, the impending catastrophe....

"On the morning of the third day, soon after four o’clock, the disaster
overtook us.  I heard shots in the saloon, and ran, only half awake, out
of my cabin.  Poker had been going on all night; Russel and Murray had
lost fabulous sums to Toroni.  Apparently Randolph had tried to persuade
his friend Murray to leave off playing, but his well-meant interference
had led to a general shindy.

"Then Russel suddenly found out that Toroni had cheated; and, mad drunk,
drew his revolver and fired at Toroni, without hitting him. Captain
Howell, who flung himself between them, had Toroni seized and locked up
in his own cabin. But as I was leaving the saloon, Russel fired a second
shot, and Captain Howell fell dead on the floor with a bullet through
his head.

"Bellowing like a bull, the madman retreated to the companion ladder,
firing at random as he went; Rameau got a bullet in his stomach, and
died sitting in his chair.  Murray, Randolph, and I drew our revolvers,
but Russel darted up on deck, and when we went after him met us with a
succession of shots from both his weapons at once.  Murray fell, hit by
two bullets, the mulatto, Symes, was wounded in the arm and Randolph in
the head.

"The crew, already short-handed, were scared by these terrible events,
and particularly by the death of their captain; the pilot left the wheel
to escape the bullets, and ’King Solomon’ fell off her course.  In less
than a minute the ship presented her broadside to the waves and rolled
so heavily that I thought we should go down at any moment.  The first
mate and two sailors went overboard while attempting to shorten sail and
heave to; heavy seas broke over every part of the ship and stopped the
fighting.  ’Looney’ Russel had disappeared in a wave and was seen no
more.

"The second mate took over the command, but could not make himself
heard.  The ship drifted helplessly; the foremast went overboard, got
caught in the tackle, and in a short time made a leak on the larboard
side.  The pumps were manned, but every one on board knew that ’King
Solomon’ was doomed.  Then some one shouted: ’Save the gold.’  ’We’ll
thank God if we can save our lives,’ the second mate replied.

"At 6 A.M. the life boats were launched in a sea the waves of which were
mountain high; the long boat and the launch were dashed to pieces at
once, but the quarter-boats were kept clear. Panic, however, reigned
supreme—every one was madly intent on saving his own life.  Six of the
crew leapt into one of the quarter-boats with Sanderson, O’Bryan and
McCormick, pushed off, and were swept away in the dark; that was the
last I saw of them.  I had no time to think, and I don’t believe any one
thought of the gold. Those of us still on board were making frantic
efforts to lower the second quarter-boat.  Then the mizzen mast broke,
and a falling spar struck me; I fell unconscious down the cabin stairs,
where I was washed into a corner with no one to help me. The rest of the
ship’s company, viz.: the second mate, the mulatto, Symes, Payter,
Randolph, and the two Dreyels, left in the other quarter-boat, and the
wreck drifted aimlessly in an easterly direction with me and six million
dollars in gold on board.

"When I regained consciousness it was broad daylight, the storm had
abated, and ’King Solomon’ floated low and deep on the big waves.  I
thought I was alone on board, but presently.  I fancied I heard a faint
knocking on the cabin door.  It was Toroni, who had been locked in and
forgotten!  I let him out and we considered our position.  There was one
boat left on the ship,—the small gig,—but even that was badly damaged by
the waves.  It looked as if ’King Solomon’ were about to sink at any
minute, and we set to work repairing the gig.  There was food in plenty,
but we did not allow ourselves time to eat.  The fifteen boxes of gold
still stood in the saloon, but we did not care to look at them, and
whilst we were at work ’King Solomon’ still drifted eastward.  I can’t
say whether it was on the second or third day after the shipwreck that
we sighted land—those terrible days and nights are confused in my
mind—but there _was_ land at last, and ’King Solomon’ glided slowly in
between two islands, divided by a broad channel.  No houses, people or
boats were to be seen, and the rocky shore did not look very inviting.
’King Solomon’s’ voyage was ended.  The wreck began to sink rapidly in
mid-channel; there was just time to push off the gig before the ship
went down; and it was not till she had sunk that I realized what a loss
was mine, that my hardly-won gold—and that of my mates—was lying at the
bottom of the sea and that I was ruined.  Fortunately the ship’s
instruments were in the boat; and with a vague thought that I might
return some day and retrieve the gold from the deep, I fixed the place
where ’King Solomon’ had sunk by seconds—for though the coast furnished
infallible landmarks, the channel was more than a mile in breadth—and
then ascertained that the wreck lay at a depth of about ten fathoms.
Toroni was present but he had no knowledge of navigation and I am now
aware that he made no copy of the bearings I fixed.

"Now as to the place: it lies among the islands that run along the coast
to the most southerly part of Alaska.  The largest of these is called
’Hurricane Island,’ and is a rocky, deserted place, cut in two by the
’Black Valley,’ which is covered in part by forest, and opposite the
smaller ’Fir Island.’  The channel between the islands is five miles
long and one or two wide, with a depth varying from eight to twenty-five
fathoms; there it was ’King Solomon’ went to the bottom.  When I had
thus located the wreck Toroni and I hoisted a sail and departed in a
southerly direction.  On the eighteenth day we were sighted by a
Norwegian barque, bound for San Francisco.

"Of our condition at that time I will only say that the hardships we had
gone through had affected our minds; that we were half-starved and
feverish, and could not even give an account of what had happened.  I
was perfectly stunned by the catastrophe.  We parted at San Francisco.

"I was told afterwards that the first quarterdeck boat had been lost,
leaving no trace behind, but the second had reached land with Victor and
Christian Dreyel as sole survivors.  The papers did not get hold of the
facts, and only one, a San Francisco paper, had a short notice to the
effect that ’King Solomon’ had gone down with all hands on board.  That
notice was the cause of my wife’s death.  I was..."

Here Wallion turned a few leaves and remarked:

"We are already acquainted with William’s illness and his fifteen years
of crazy wandering; we will skip that."

They continued with the reading.

"The finding of my daughter was a turning-point for me; I began to make
plans for the recovery of the gold which had lain so long at the bottom
of the sea, but that required funds.  I put myself in communication with
the next of kin of the men who had perished on the ’King Solomon,’ and
took steps to find their heirs. Then an unexpected thing happened.  I
came across Toroni in the street one day, under circumstances which
clearly showed that he was spying upon me, and it was borne in upon me
that some one wanted to steal the papers giving particulars of the place
where the wreck lay.  I was terribly worried.  Partly to pass away the
time I had carved wooden figures to represent myself and my eleven
companions in misfortune, and had numbered them according to the
accompanying list.  I destroyed the notes referring to ’King Solomon’
after having engraved numbers denoting longitude and latitude on the
feet of those dolls which bore even numbers—the latitude in degrees,
minutes and seconds on dolls numbered 2, 4, and 6, and the longitude on
those numbered 8, 10, and 12.  As an additional measure of precaution I
sent the two dolls which gave the seconds to the two Dreyel cousins.  It
was a well-conceived plan; for two days later—I don’t know how—the rest
of the dolls were stolen.  This discovery aggravated my illness, and I
felt that I did, indeed, require medical advice.

"But I fell from the frying-pan into the fire, and am now virtually a
prisoner in Doctor Corman’s villa.  Edward Dixon is hoodwinking Elaine,
and I cannot do anything to save myself.  I am writing this in hopes
that it may bring this diabolical plot to the notice of the authorities.
Toroni is the prime mover in it; all these years, thoughts of the six
millions must have been seething in his brain.  I got to know that in
1904 he had made a secret attempt to get up the gold at Hurricane Island
by himself. That was foolish; divers and modern appliances are required
for such a purpose.  Moreover, it is easier to find ’a needle in a
bottle of hay’ than to find a wreck ten fathoms below the surface, in a
channel half a Swedish mile in length and over two miles in breadth.  I
cannot say whether he was preparing for a bolder stroke; at any rate,
soon after, a decided obstacle came in the way.

"In 1913 a man, of the name of Compton, reported that he had discovered
rich copper mines in the Black Valley on Hurricane Island; a company was
formed, hundreds of workmen were sent out and operations on a large
scale begun.  The legend of the copper mine was exploded in 1917, and
the islands were deserted. Now was Toroni’s chance, he looked about for
a capitalist and found ... Edward Attiswood Dixon, who appeared to make
large deals and whose means were so ample that he no longer engaged in
any regular business.  He gladly agreed to Toroni’s proposal; and for a
ridiculously small sum acquired Hurricane Island and Fir Island, with
the buildings left there by the former copper mine company.  Officially
he gave out that he meant to erect a repairing station for vessels
trading between Alaska and the States; he did, in fact, build a
breakwater with all modern improvements for sheltering ships, but that
was only a blind to cover his search for the wreck of ’King Solomon,’
which was begun without delay.  The search came to nothing; it only
proved that my notes were indispensible. Then they got at Elaine, and
through her I was enticed to leave my secluded quarters.  Her engagement
in Dixon’s office and my incarceration at Doctor Corman’s were only
small items in their plans, but I was not going to give away the secret
of ’King Solomon,’ if I could help it!  I am hoping to escape, and as it
may be necessary to get the two dolls back from the Dreyel cousins. I
shall try to persuade Elaine to help me.  If these papers should fall
into the hands of honest people, I hope they will straightway send them
to Headquarters.

"Seattle, July the third, 1918,
       "William Robertson."

                   "LIST OF THE OWNERS OF THE GOLD."

1.  William Robertson, only relative, one daughter, Elaine . . . 200,000
dollars

2.  Nicholas Sanderson (drowned), probable relatives at West Hartlepool,
England . . . 600,000 dollars

3.  Craig Russel (drowned), family in Chicago, one brother in Melbourne
. . . 1,200,000 dollars

4.  Christian Dreyel, domiciled in Sweden, Captain Street, Borne . . .
200,000 dollars

5.  Victor Dreyel, cousin of the above, domiciled in Sweden, 30 John
Street, Stockholm . . . 200,000 dollars

6.  Aaron Payter (died in boat, no relations . . . 800,000 dollars

7.  Frederick O’Bryan (drowned), wife in Dublin, 142 Green Street . . .
800,000 dollars

8.  Hippolyte Xerxes Byrnes (died in boat), probably mother and sisters
in Louisiana . . . 500,000 dollars

9.  Jean Rameau (shot on board), three sisters in Ontario . . . 200,000
dollars

10.  Sandy McCormick (drowned), no relations . . . 200,000 dollars

11.  Phil Murray (shot on board), parents in a village in Sussex,
England . . . 600,000 dollars

12.  Walter Randolph (died in boat), possibly relatives in Wales or
Cornwall, England . . . 300,000 dollars

"Total . . . 5,800,000 dollars"


Wallion and Tom looked up from the last page at one another.  It had
grown so dark that they could hardly decipher the final lines.

"What do you think of that?" whispered Tom.

"It is beyond my most sanguine expectations," replied Wallion.

He rolled the papers up again in the oilcloth.

"What do you intend to do?" inquired his friend.

"I intend to replace the packet in Dixon’s coat pocket.  If he were to
miss it and give the alarm, that would be an end to our liberty."

Wallion wriggled out of the boat and restored the packet to its place,
after which he returned to his hiding-place; without a word he lay down
on his back with hands clasped under his head. Tom, who thought his
friend must be turning over in his mind the amazing story they had just
read, did not venture to break the silence for a time.  At last one of
the thousand questions with which his brain was teeming could no longer
be restrained.

"Maurice," he said, "do you think McTuft has any idea where we are?"

Receiving no answer, he bent down to look at his friend and repeat his
question.

Maurice Wallion was sound asleep.



                             *CHAPTER XIX*

                      *WHERE THOMAS FALLS INTO THE
                       HANDS OF THE PHILISTINES*


Next morning there was a strong wind, and the yacht pitched a good deal;
the violent motion woke Tom to find Wallion already awake. A shower of
rain came down, but under the tarpaulin, though rather cramped, they
were dry. Now that the mystery of the wooden dolls was solved, Wallion
resumed his usual placid demeanor.  They breakfasted on salmon, bread
and sausage and then, in subdued tones, discussed the information
gleaned from William Robertson’s notes.

"It never occurred to me that ’King Solomon’ might be a wrecked vessel,"
remarked Wallion thoughtfully.  "I wish I had known that three days ago;
it rather alters the situation. Evidently our adversaries do not
contemplate a long delay; they have brought divers, and all is clear at
the so-called ’wharf.’  Having located the spot only a few hours are
required for hauling up the gold.  I wonder..."

He laid his finger on his lips and his hand on Tom’s arm; footsteps
could be heard on deck.

"Thursday morning," said Doctor Corman irascibly, "that is rather late,
Dixon."

"Rubbish!  Why?" asked the owner of the yacht.

"Why?  Because I am under no delusion about what we have left behind.
Wallion is out of the reckoning" (here the latter pinched Tom’s arm),
"but don’t forget McTuft, who was at Toroni’s heels, and Wallion’s
Swedish friend, too, would not be idle either; it is quite possible that
he was at the Golden Snake Hotel with Wallion.  William Robertson has
been set at liberty ere this, and would, naturally, tell all he knows.
In short," said the Doctor with bitterness, "there is no lack of
witnesses who can swear that we went out on a trip whence we shall
require no return tickets."

"Fudge," said Dixon again, "the ocean is large."

"Answer me one thing," interrupted the Doctor. "How is it our wireless
has received no inquiries about the ’Ariadne’ from either incoming or
out-going vessels?"

"Oh, I don’t know."

"Well, I can tell you: it is because we are being tracked, and it was
probably known that same evening that we were on board her.  As they
don’t seem to be making inquiries about the yacht, I conclude they know
all about her, that very likely a patrol-boat is chasing us already; and
if they have discovered our final destination they will make straight
for Hurricane Island and as likely as not arrive there before us."

A mournful silence followed this speech.

"I should say you’re right about that," said Dixon.

"I’ll just have a talk with the captain."

He was back again in five minutes.

"Hawkins says that with this wind the ’Ariadne’ can be at Hurricane
Island by Wednesday evening, if I will take the risk of the boiler
bursting," he said evidently greatly relieved.

"Well?" growled the Doctor.

"I said," continued Dixon, rather brutally, "I didn’t mind if the
’Ariadne’ were shivered to atoms, provided he landed us safely on
Hurricane Island by mid-day Wednesday, at the latest."

The Doctor, apparently satisfied, said nothing more, and, judging by the
sound, the two men had turned back towards their cabins.  Dixon had
picked up the coat he had forgotten.

"Corman is no fool," remarked Wallion.  "I was just going to say I
wonder how far McTuft has got.  When he gave up the black car, he very
likely went back to the ’Golden Snake,’ where he would be told that the
’Ariadne’ had put out to sea.  A patrol-boat would have been put at his
disposal yesterday morning at latest, and a nice race it will be,
indeed.  I should rather like to give him a few choice bits of
information...."

"Information as to what?" asked Tom.

"That there are always means of evasion," said Wallion suavely.  "I only
wish I had my faithful Browning."

"But tell me, do you think Captain Hawkins and the crew would come over
to our side if we explained the situation to them?"

"H—m!  I don’t feel inclined to run the risk; my papers of
identification are at the bottom of the sea near the Golden Snake Hotel,
because I took off my shoes and coat when I swam out to the yacht.  The
coat I am wearing now I borrowed from the Captain’s exceedingly
well-stocked wardrobe."  He laughed, but immediately became grave again.
"No, my friend, if we were to show ourselves now, that precious ’Italian
Detective’ would have us shut up as members of the ’Black Hand.’"  He
pondered a while, and then remarked philosophically: "We must leave it
to time, we have no particular inducement for interfering; besides, the
’Ariadne’ is taking us precisely where we want to go...."

"To Hurricane Island?  I am not particularly keen on going there,
especially in company with these gentlemen," replied Tom; "the place is
so infernally out of the way too."

"That can’t be helped," said Wallion, "business must always be settled
in its proper place and at the proper time."

Soon the smoke from the tall, yellow funnel grew thicker and thicker,
until it rolled in a compact black mass over the water.  The vibration
increased, and the noise of the propeller became louder; evidently the
engines were working at the highest possible pressure.  The strain had
begun.

"Look here," said Wallion, much interested, "this abnormal speed shows
the captain is keeping his word; by twelve o’clock the ’Ariadne’ will be
lying at anchor off Hurricane Island."

                     *      *      *      *      *

The yacht’s wireless was installed behind the bridge and connected with
the chart-house. Occasionally they caught a glimpse of the operator, a
pale young man named Moreland.  He had not much to do, and sometimes
left his apparatus for an hour or two; consequently no messages were
sent, and calls were left unanswered.

On the bridge, taking turns with Captain Hawkins, they noticed a young,
smart-looking ship’s officer, whom the captain addressed as "Weston."
These two were evidently the only men in authority.  Wallion took the
crew to consist of five or six men only.

About 2 P.M., Tom experienced a sudden, most delightful thrill.  Elaine
Robertson appeared on deck; she was accompanied by Madame Lorraine, and
the two walked up and down for nearly fifteen minutes, without uttering
a word.  Elaine seemed grave and worried; at every turn she stopped for
a few seconds and looked wistfully towards the horizon.  Did she hope
she might see the smoke of a liner? Perhaps; but all around nothing was
to be seen but passing clouds; and eventually she and Madame Lorraine
went below.  In the afternoon there was no one on the bridge.

Tom yawned; he was bored to death.  He and Wallion had come to the end
of their provisions. Night had fallen.

                     *      *      *      *      *

After some hours of troubled sleep Tom awoke; the hard bottom of the
boat was not exactly an ideal resting place; moreover, he was very
hungry.  It was still dark, but most of the night had passed and day was
dawning in the East. He tried to look at his watch but could not see the
hands; by his side Wallion continued fast asleep.

Two days and nights of enforced idleness had begun to tell on Tom.  He
did not like his unshaven chin; he was not accustomed—like his friend—to
such small sacrifices on the altar of his profession; his muscles were
stiff and his hunger astounding.  If Wallion had been so successful in
procuring food, why should not he?

The "Ariadne" sped through the darkness with no lights showing.  Now and
again Captain Hawkins might be seen walking to and fro on the bridge
with long and resolute strides.

The pantry was only a little way off, and Tom supposed he might get
there under cover.  He determined to make the attempt.

The next time the Captain’s steps turned to starboard, Tom leapt down on
the deck and stole to the stairs; below, everything was dark and quiet.
Automatically he counted the steps, of which there were eighteen, to the
bottom, where the edge of a red carpet was visible.  After some
hesitation he stealthily walked down one step at a time, until he found
himself standing on a red carpet.  A corridor opened in front of him,
and on either side were three closed doors; behind him, on the right of
the stairs, was the saloon, and on the left a kind of store-room. He
could see distinctly to the end of the corridor, thanks to a little
electric lamp on the ceiling, and he noticed a door which he supposed
would lead to the fore-part of the ship.  With noiseless steps he made
for it, but when he was about half-way along the corridor he had to put
out his hands to save himself from falling.  He had caught his foot in a
piece of string which he could not shake off, and an electric bell close
by was ringing, not loudly but continuously. A cold sweat broke out on
his forehead.  He made another desperate effort to free his foot, and
broke the string.

The bell ceased to ring, but at the same moment three lamps in the
ceiling flashed on.  A door opened, and Doctor Corman stepped out, clad
only in his pyjamas.  He looked at Tom, and said with great
deliberation:

"I see I was right; I suspected you were on board, and thought of
proposing a search to-morrow.  You are very welcome, Mr. Murner; there’s
a special cabin waiting for you."

Tom took a step forward, but a pair of strong arms gripped him from
behind and held him as in an iron vice; it was Toroni.  The owner of the
yacht appeared at the same time, half-dressed, revolver in hand.

"What’s up now?" said Dixon angrily.  "Your alarm arrangement, Toroni,
is the very ... Hallo!" he exclaimed as he caught sight of Tom, changing
the pungent expletive he was going to use.  He burst into a loud guffaw
of satisfaction and surprise.  "Well, who’d have thought it?  _You_
here?  It’s more than forty-eight hours since the ’Ariadne’ weighed
anchor, and you have lain low until now ... Why so bashful? I trust you
will not deprive us again of your pleasant company."

"It takes two for that," was Tom’s infuriated answer.

He hurled himself with great violence upon Toroni, who missed his
footing, uttered a vile oath, and losing hold of Tom, allowed him to
slip between Corman and Dixon, who knocked the revolver out of Dixon’s
hand in his mad rush for the stairs.  Where he should go next he had not
the least notion, but he thought his first and most important duty was
to divert attention from Wallion and their place of concealment in the
larboard boat.  But his adversaries were too quick for him.  On the
lowest step he was stopped and seized by three pairs of hands.  He
struggled for a few minutes, but gave in when he found the muzzle of a
pistol pointing at him.

"That’s right, take things easy," said Dixon, in a tone bordering on
friendliness.  "We shall come to terms before long."

Tom breathed hard, but submitted to his fate in silence.  Dixon looked
up, listening intently. Tom feared that Wallion had betrayed himself by
some impetuous movement in the boat, but Dixon was not looking in its
direction.  The wireless installation stood out against the bright, blue
sky, and an intermittent crackling sound made itself plainly heard from
above.  Dixon ran up the stairs.

"What the devil are you doing, Moreland?" he shouted.  "Are you mad?"

"Moreland is not here," answered the captain from the bridge.  "He went
to bed about eleven, Mr. Dixon."

The wireless had stopped short, Dixon looked up at the cables in anger
and consternation.

"Who is sending a message?" he asked.

"Don’t know," said the captain.  "Weston says that two messages were
sent during the night, we thought it might be Mr. Ferail."

"Confound it all," roared Dixon, white with fury.  "Call out the crew,
there is a spy on board."

A whistle sounded and the captain rushed up to the wireless room.  Dixon
pushed Tom back into the corridor, gave him a look which boded no good,
and asked: "Who was with you?"

"I shan’t tell you," Tom answered.  He strongly suspected that Wallion
had been in the wireless room, and he was fully determined not to admit
anything.

"Was it McTuft?"

"No."

With a side glance at Toroni, Dixon said:

"Has a miracle happened?  Was it Wallion?"

Tom moved impatiently.

"What’s the use of asking me?" he said.  "Do you believe I should be
likely to give you any answer?"

Dixon, by this time more calm and sober, surveyed him attentively; his
face wore an expression of cool determination.

"Shut him up in a safe place," he said to Corman and Toroni.  Then he
went on deck, and Tom heard him shout:

"Are you there, Weston?  Take three men with you and search the boat
thoroughly.  Well, Captain Hawkins?"

"There’s no one in the room, Mr. Dixon, but Moreland is there on duty
now."

"All right, keep your eyes open, all of you.... A hundred dollars for
the man who catches the spy.  I shall expect to be face to face with him
in half-an-hour...."

The voices sounded farther away.  Toroni and the Doctor led Tom down the
corridor.  They unlocked a door on the starboard side, and signed to Tom
to go in.  The door was double-locked after him and he found himself
shut in a narrow, but luxuriously furnished, cabin lighted by a lamp,
with a yellow silk shade, fixed in the wall.  He put out the lamp, for
daylight already began to filter through the small port-holes, and
forgetting his own pitiable plight he listened anxiously for what might
be going on outside.



                              *CHAPTER XX*

                        *ELAINE TELLS THE TRUTH*


Tom heard orders given overhead and footsteps in all parts of the boat,
but nothing to indicate that Wallion had been found.  He had such
unbounded faith in his friend’s ingenuity and dexterity that he believed
it quite possible that Wallion would succeed in escaping from his
pursuers.

For a whole hour the noise continued to increase, then suddenly all was
silent.  A long way off, Dixon’s voice could be heard, raised in anger.
The Doctor seemed to be trying to soothe him.  The two men were
apparently going down the stairs.

Tom felt less anxious now.  Clearly, in some unaccountable manner,
Wallion had disappeared. He looked round his by no means horrible
prison; behind some beaded drapery he discovered a small dressing-room,
with hot and cold water laid on.  There, too, he found a shaving kit,
and managed to make quite a decent and comfortable toilet.  Then he
helped himself to a Virginia cigarette from a box of beaten copper and
sat down with a sigh of resignation.

The "Ariadne" pursued her way, always at top speed; the black smoke cast
long shadows on the water and the seething breakers beat against the
little window.

About 10 A.M. the door opened, and a steward made an unexpected
appearance.

"Mr. Dixon requests Mr. Murner’s presence in the saloon," he said.

With mixed feelings Tom obeyed the summons. On entering he found Dixon,
Corman and Toroni seated at a large table, and Hawkins standing before
them.

"Well, Hawkins," said Dixon.  "Here you see one of them, and if we can
only catch the other we shall be all right.  They are two of the most
dangerous members of the ’Black Hand’...."

"That’s a lie," broke in Tom angrily.  "I am a Swede, and my name is
Thomas Murner.  Look here, here are my..."  He was going to say "papers"
but when he put his hand in his pocket he found they had gone; his
pocket-book had been taken from him during the struggle in the corridor.

"Your _what_?" said Dixon derisively.  "Your weapon?  No, you are
harmless for the present, my friend.  We found your hiding place in the
larboard boat.  Detective Ferail, my guest, has reason to be proud of
his catch.  Now tell us who your companion was, and where he has gone
to?"

Tom bit his lip and said nothing.  It was not worth while entering into
any explanation with Hawkins, who, simple and honest seafaring man man
as he was, surveyed him with some curiosity and distrust.

"So you won’t answer?" continued Dixon. "You can go now, Captain, and
resume the the search until the other fellow is found."

The captain took his leave.  When he had gone Dixon burst out laughing.
"You _do_ look surprised, Mr. Murner; isn’t our little joke to your
taste?  I am afraid it will have to be carried on a little longer
though; but, no doubt, you understand that resistance can only lead to
harder conditions, and make matters worse for you, and that, with or
without your consent, you must be our guest until the gold is hauled up.
You see?"  He gave Tom a cold and searching look.

"And then?" inquired Tom as calmly as he could.

"After that our ways will lie apart, you and your bashful, retiring
friend will be sent on a little pleasure trip to ... shall we say ...
Australia?  Naturally, under the supervision of our good Hawkins."

Toroni remarked quietly:

"Much too much talk.  I should have settled this business in a much
simpler manner..."

"Misleading the police is quite enough," said Corman with evident
disgust, and without looking at Toroni.  "Our record is already
sufficiently long."

One of the two doors Tom had noticed at the farther end of the saloon
was thrown open, and Madame Lorraine with a cigarette between her lips
walked in.  She neither showed the least surprise nor took any notice of
Tom, but turned to her brother and asked:

"Whatever is all the commotion on deck about?"

"There’s some one on board we should rather like to get hold of,"
replied the Doctor.  "You keep out of the way, it is nothing that
concerns you."

Madame emitted a puff of smoke.

"Have you really searched everywhere?" she said with indifference.  "Who
can he be?"

"Well, we must see.  There is no danger, but for safety’s sake I just
went in to have a look at Elaine.  She seemed rather upset.  You can
comfort her, can’t you?"

"Poor little thing," said Madame Lorraine, "I’ll look after her..."

She threw the stump of her cigarette on an ash-tray and went out by the
other door, closing it after her.  Tom inferred that the cabins at the
back of the saloon had been reserved for the two ladies.

"I suppose it is useless to put any more questions to you, Mr. Murner?"
said Dixon after a pause.

"Perfectly useless."

"You won’t even explain how you managed to come on board?"

"Certainly not."

"In that case I have only one piece of advice to give you.  Hold your
tongue and you won’t have any complaint to make about your treatment
here so long as you are my guest.  Now, may I request you to return to
your cabin? The steward will see that you have everything, except ...
your liberty."

Tom turned on his heels and went back to his cabin.  Ten minutes later
the waiter brought in a tray with a liberal breakfast.  As he was eating
Tom heard a quiet knock at the closed door. He looked at it in surprise.
A white card had been pushed under it and lay on the floor.  It was one
of Wallion’s visiting cards, and in the firm handwriting he knew so
well, he read:

    "Situation promising.  Hold yourself in readiness. Our day is
    coming.—M.W."


Tom ran to the door and shook it, but there was no sound.  He gently
whispered Wallion’s name; there was no response, but in a second or two
the steward came up and asked from the outside:

"Did you require anything more, sir?"

"No, thank you, nothing," answered Tom. He flung himself down on the
bed.  Those few words on the card had been like refreshing wine to him.
The blood mounted to his head, and his nerves tingled, but he was at a
loss—turn or twist the words as he might—to account for such a message.
Wallion’s audacity, too, almost frightened him.  How was all this to
end?

Certain signs indicated that the "Ariadne" was approaching her journey’s
end, and Tom began to get fidgety.  For safety’s sake he tore the card
to bits, which he threw out of a porthole. In the east, land could be
discerned, and the boat, still at top speed, passed a number of islands,
sometimes nearer, sometimes further away, gray and red, with dabs of
dark woods.

Lunch was served at two o’clock, but Tom’s appetite was gone.

"Shall we soon be there?" he asked.

"In about another hour," replied the steward civilly, but he beat a
hasty retreat to avoid any further inquiries.

An hour went by.  Tom walked restlessly up and down in his tiny cabin.
Then bit by bit a high mountain ridge came in sight about a thousand
yards away, and a little later, when the yacht had slackened speed, a
steep arid coast in some parts covered with tall firs, and then a wide
valley with lighter foliage in the background.  The engines stopped, and
the yacht anchored about a hundred yards from a dilapidated wooden pier.
The "Ariadne" had reached her goal.

So this was Hurricane Island, and over there the "Black Valley"?  On the
left Tom noticed a jumble of sheds and chimneys.

The wharf mentioned was a very simple affair, there was no work going
on, but a score of men came out on the quay, from mere curiosity.  At
some distance down the valley could be seen a skeleton swing-bridge,
leading into a dark hole on the mountain side; this was the deserted
copper mine; but, save for this reminder of bygone industry, the
surrounding country was desolate.

A large motor boat came out from the quay, and when it got alongside the
"Ariadne" Tom noticed at the wheel a man who might have been the foreman
of the wharf.  He had evidently come to welcome his employers.  The boat
slipped round to the bow of the yacht and the Captain shouted from the
bridge:

"Mr. Dixon is engaged, but lay to and come on board."

There was a high sea and the yacht rocked considerably.  Things began to
be very lively on deck and Tom wondered what was going on.

The steward came in hurriedly to remove the luncheon tray, and Tom had a
shock.

This time the man had left the door unlocked! Tom listened, thinking he
might come back.  In the direction of the stairs, he heard Dixon’s voice
in sharp altercation with the Doctor.

"It is impossible," he was saying; "it can’t be done now, the sea is too
rough.  We shall have to wait an hour or two."

"In an hour or two it may be too late," the Doctor replied.

"I don’t think so.  Besides it takes time to fix upon the exact
place...."

"Well, and what about this Swede’s friend whom we couldn’t catch?"

"Haven’t we thoroughly searched every nook and cranny?  There wasn’t a
spot as big as a dollar left for any one to hide in.  He isn’t here,
Corman.  The wireless has given out, that is the solution of..."  Their
voices died away and they went up on deck.

Tom strained every nerve, trying to impress upon his memory the things
he had heard; he conquered his desire to rush out, for Wallion’s
instructions had only been "keep himself in readiness."  And Wallion was
at liberty, probably with a deep scheme in his mind.  Trembling with
excitement he muttered, "Let us hope it won’t be long ... if only I
knew."

The yacht tugged at her cables, and Fir Island presently came in view.
It was smaller and more wooded than Hurricane Island, and looked as if
the foot of man had never trodden there.

The "Ariadne" lay about midway in the long and broad channel, through
which the waters flowed freely, and there was still a high sea running,
though the storm had abated; the clouds were heavy and twilight was
falling.  The motor boat was towing a low, flat-bottomed barge, laden
with a variety of mysterious implements, towards some point which Tom
was unable to see.  Immediately afterwards the yacht again weighed
anchor and slowly proceeded in the same direction, stopped after backing
a little, and again dropped anchor.  Then feeble strokes became audible
on the larboard side; the yacht was clearly alongside the barge.

A thought shot through Tom’s brain.  They were surely lying immediately
over the wreck of the "King Solomon."  He felt he could no longer remain
idle; in some way or another he must be doing.  He opened the door and
went into the corridor; the road was clear.  Without any attempt to
conceal his movements he walked straight into the saloon, where the
lamps were already lighted, and there, by the table, with her back to
the door, stood Elaine.  Tom stopped short, but she had already heard
him and now turned round.  Her large, dark eyes sparkled, and a smile
hovered round her trembling lips.  She was grave yet excited.

"You?" she cried.  "_You?_"

"Yes," he replied, taking her hands, "and you can’t turn me out now," he
added, half in jest. "We are still fellow-travelers, as you see, but it
seems ages since I last talked to you."

Without withdrawing her soft hands from his she continued: "How dared
you come on board the yacht?"

"You were the magnet, Elaine."

She blushed slightly, and her smile vanished; she looked furtively
round.

"You ought not to have come..."

"Does my society bore you so much?"

"No, oh no, I am glad; you have done far too much for me already, I can
never..."

"I do so want to be near you and be able to help you," he said, "if only
you will tell me what I can do."

"No, you can’t help me."

"It is true that I am but a sorry knight."

"I don’t mean that, but don’t you see, can’t you understand, that it is
too late? ..."

She pointed towards the table on which lay a number of sea-charts and
drawings; the two wooden dolls had been carelessly thrown down among
them.

"They have done their worst and we are entirely in their hands."
Something in her tone made him lean towards her; her eyes burned with
excitement and deep despair.

"Elaine," he asked impulsively, "you know all?"

"I do," she replied.  "Oh, the scoundrels ... they deceived me, enticed
me with lies ... my poor father ... Oh, Tom, it is too late..."

Almost unconsciously she had called him by his Christian name; tears
rose to her eyes and she leant her head against his shoulder.

"What an idyllic scene!" said an ironical voice at the door.  "I am
afraid we are disturbing them, Dixon."

It was Doctor Corman and Dixon; on the threshold they stood still, an
expression of scornful triumph on their faces.

"So we enticed you with lying words, Elaine?" said Corman mockingly.
"What do you intend to do then, eh?"

"Shut up," said Tom, clenching his fists.

Corman pretended to be greatly surprised.

"So you have been pleased to leave your cabin, Mr. Murner?  Oh, well, it
is of no consequence."

Elaine had pulled herself together; the sight of the two men seemed to
have put new vigor into her.

"Oh, yes, I know all about you, who choose a murderer for your friend
and are worse than a thief yourself," she cried, in a loud, clear voice.
"I overheard your conversation last night and am glad to be able to tell
you the truth at last. Worse, yes, worse than a thief; compared with
_you_ a thief is an honest man, you who rob widows and orphans, plunder
the dead and commit murder for the sake of gold.  I see everything
clearly now; I hope the truth will scorch your soul when you think of
what you have done—you liar, you devil."

Corman’s face twitched, and Dixon turned very white.  After Elaine’s
accusing words there was a dead silence, till with a forced laugh Dixon
said, rather hoarsely:

"Well, Miss Robertson, maybe you are right, only you have told us the
truth just two months too late, and you can’t stop us now..."

He looked around, but not at her.  After some hesitation he passed in
front of her and gathered up the papers from the table, looking at them
with a covert smile.

"You see, my dear young lady, there are things in our miserable lives
that you can’t understand," he said.

Then he left the saloon in silence, and Corman went with him.



                             *CHAPTER XXI*

                      *TEN FATHOMS FROM THE GOAL*


The wooden dolls still lay on the table, and as if in a dream, Tom
noticed for the first time four other wooden figures on a shelf in the
wall.  A small marble clock on the same shelf gave forth six shrill,
harsh strokes.

Elaine had sunk down on a seat on the larboard of the yacht, trembling
nervously after her recent outbreak.  Tom took a chair by her side; he
wanted to say something to comfort her, but could not think of anything.

"Don’t say anything," she whispered with a nervous little smile which
ended in a shiver. "I am not going to be hysterical...."

Their attention was diverted by a noise and a light outside the window;
they looked out, and saw that the barge had been towed alongside the
yacht.  Darkness lay over the sea, which had become much less turbulent.
The searchlight turned obliquely on the long, low deck of the barge and
its milk-white rays shone upon a curious spectacle.  Preparations for
hauling up ’King Solomon’s’ golden cargo were in full swing.  A
grotesque and clumsy gray figure, its feet weighted with lead, was
walking along the planks; it was the diver.  An assistant held the
copper helmet in readiness, the breathing-tube was coiled round his body
and a third man was looking after the air-pump.  On the deck stood
Dixon, Corman, and Toroni—the two former smoking in gloomy silence; the
young girl’s words must surely have burnt themselves into their
consciences and embittered their hour of triumph.

Toroni, on the other hand, was watching the work with apathetic
curiosity, self-centered, awaiting the result of the plot he had
engineered with violence and cunning twelve months before; the hour when
his hands should close on the coveted six millions.  Did he really
intend his two accomplices to have a share in the booty? Tom noticed the
sinister look he cast at the others through his half-closed eyes.  Was
his subtle brain evolving another piece of villainy? The expression of
his face seemed to say, "I am quite aware that you despise me, though
you have no objection to share the roast ... but don’t be too sure."  He
walked up to them, pointed to the water, and with a cynical grimace said
a few words.

Tom noiselessly opened the ventilator and distinctly heard Corman’s
answer:

"And then?  If they can’t find it there, we are lost, that’s all about
it."  He made a weary and deprecating gesture with his hands.

"But it is there," said Toroni, in a low voice. "Sixteen years ago I saw
it disappearing in the sea on the very spot upon which we are standing
to-day ... Why don’t you say something? ... Why don’t you laugh?" and
once more he pointed to the dark, rolling waves. "Only ten fathoms from
the prize," he whispered, "only ten fathoms from ’King Solomon’ ...
haven’t you anything to say?"

Dixon turned his back upon him in order to make an end of the matter, at
the same time shouting to the diver:

"Ready there? ... Look sharp about it."

The diver went down the steps and into the water up to his waist; he
hitched an electric lamp with brightly polished reflector on to his
chest, and the helmet was screwed on over his head.  The air-pump began
to work with long, absorbent puffs, and the copper helmet gradually
disappeared under the water, which bubbled up over it; the assistant
paid out the coil and the rope with mechanical precision. Fifteen
minutes passed, then the diver came up again on the steps.  Toroni bent
down to him, and Dixon and Corman also came forward; the diver opened
the little glass pane in the helmet.

"The wreck is there all right; it has sunk a little lower, but there are
no difficulties.  The chests are all right in the saloon."

"The fifteen, all told?" inquired Toroni.

"Yes, all of them, safe and uninjured."

Toroni gave his friends a look, but no word passed between them.  A
windlass had been rigged up over the side of the barge, and the diver at
once went back to the wreck, taking a supple steel wire with him.

The group on the boat stood stiff and motionless in silent expectation;
the men looked like coal-black shadows in the steady rays of the
searchlight; it was pitch dark all round.  Tom, sick with suspense,
sought the back of a chair as support.  Everything had gone so fast and
in such a business-like manner that time after time he was forced to
repeat to himself: "The gold is there, it is there."

Again, in despair, he asked: "Where can Wallion be, what can prevent him
from coming?"



                             *CHAPTER XXII*

                      *MADAME LORRAINE’S SURPRISE*


There were suspicious movements in the saloon behind them, and Elaine
uttered a cry.  It was Madame Lorraine, but a greatly changed Madame
Lorraine; her sea-green eyes shone with a peculiar emotion, and she
looked at them both with an expression that made Tom hurriedly get up
from his chair.  She went close up to him and put a revolver into his
hand.

"You are stout-hearted," she said in so low a voice that he could
scarcely hear her.  "Your friend says the time has come; take this, it
is loaded ... I have always kept it by me as a last resource."

He hardly understood her.

"What do you mean?" he said.

"Do not speak so loud," she answered.  "It was I who slipped the card
under your door, I have a surprise in store for you ... and _them_," she
added, in still more subdued tone.  Through the ventilator she cast a
look of intense hate upon the silent group outside.

Then Tom grasped the fact that Madame Lorraine had deserted her
associates and come over to the enemy!  He remembered that her conduct
throughout had often puzzled both Wallion and himself.  Now she had come
to a decision, driven thereto by the loathsome presence of Toroni.  The
cabin occupied by Madame Lorraine had been the only place not subjected
to the rigorous search made for the "Problem Solver."

With one bound Tom dashed through the half-open door into Madame
Lorraine’s cabin ... there, at the table, stood Maurice Wallion, in the
act of loading a revolver.

"I am just coming," he said, looking over his shoulder and smiling.
"You know, it was rather cute of you to let yourself be caught this
morning," he added, coming out into the saloon. "You see, I had sent a
few wireless messages to McTuft during the night, but obviously that
could not go on much longer; and when that big raid was on I had the
good luck to find Madame Lorraine alone here in the saloon, so I
persuaded her to come to a noble and reasonable decision" (here he made
a polite little bow).  "Thanks for your hospitality, Madame, it will
never be forgotten," he said.  Then he shot a keen glance through the
window and frowned.

"The time has come," he said abruptly, "they are much too busily engaged
out there to suspect our plans."

"What plans are those?"

"To take possession of the yacht."

Tom was just as eager for action as his friend. "Yes," he said, almost
breathless with excitement, "go on, you’ll have me near you."

They left the ladies in the saloon and hurriedly went out.

"Where is McTuft?" asked Tom.

"He is chasing us in the ’Albatross,’ a patrol-boat; and, acting on my
instructions, he will be here soon."

Tom’s confidence in Wallion rose many degrees at that piece of
information.  He had no doubt that they could have surprised the
conspirators without assistance, but to deliver them up to the law was a
more ticklish affair; for that purpose McTuft and his "boys" would prove
very useful.

They looked about them for a few minutes from the top of the gangway.
On the larboard side lay the barge, well-lighted up by the rays of the
searchlight, whilst all was dark and still on the yacht.  The crew stood
leaning over the railings, looking on with great interest; on the bridge
near the wireless hut were Captain Hawkins and the pilot Weston.  Tom
accompanied Wallion along the dark deck to the bridge. Scattered lights
from the wharf were reflected in the water, but there was no danger to
be apprehended from that quarter.

"Moreland is in the wireless room," said Wallion.  "When we get there
you must go straight up to him and point your revolver at his head. I
shall persuade the captain and pilot to go in there too; the rest I will
take into my own hands."

They stole up to the bridge like a couple of cats, only stopping
occasionally to take breath.

The well-lighted wireless room was just behind the chart-house; and
immediately in front, on the other side of the steering-wheel, they saw
the unmistakable silhouettes of Hawkins and Weston.

The rhythmic suction of the air-pumps and the sharp creaking of the
windlass could be heard far and wide in the stillness of the night.

"Now then, go ahead," said Wallion.

Tom straightened himself and noiselessly entered the hut.  Moreland
looked up, and turned pale when he saw the revolver pointed at his head.

"Sit still," said Tom, in a commanding tone; "if you move I fire."

The telegraphist sat as motionless as a stone image.

Meanwhile Wallion crept up behind Hawkins and Western.

"Gentlemen," he said, "this is no time for talking; I shall fire without
compunction, if necessary.  Go to the wireless room at once in front of
me."

They obeyed with hands up, and he ordered them to sit down with their
hands in front of them.  Then he locked the door.

"Now for a little explanation," he said with a smile.  "I regret having
to act in this cavalier fashion, but I had to make you hear what I have
to say, without raising an alarm; you take us for two bandits belonging
to the Black Hand gang, don’t you?"

"Mr. Dixon said so," retorted the captain sullenly.

"Very well, listen now; Mr. Dixon told a downright damned lie.  My name
is Maurice Wallion, and I am a detective from Sweden, and this
gentleman" (pointing to Tom) "is my friend and assistant, Mr. Murner."

Captain Hawkins stared distrustfully at him. "Anybody might say that,"
he growled.

"But I can swear that it _is_ so."

"In that case there should be no difficulty in proving your identity."

"My own papers have been lost, and Murner’s have been taken away from
him."

The captain shook his head.  "Excuse me if I don’t believe you; besides,
what business could you have on board Mr. Dixon’s yacht?"

"My business here is to arrest Ricardo Ferail for murder and theft, and
Dixon and Corman for aiding and abetting," Wallion said very quietly.

Captain Hawkins stared as if he had heard something perfectly
impossible.  "You’re a good ’un," he said scornfully, "you can tell that
tale to the marines."

"Then you don’t believe what I say?"

"I don’t."

Tom cast a troubled look at Wallion; it seemed to him the situation was
becoming critical.

"It will afford me much pleasure to prove every word I have said,
Captain Hawkins."

"How are you going to do that? ... It would be rather amusing," was
Hawkins’ answer.

"It will be very simple: a few nautical miles from here is an American
patrol-boat, the ’Albatross,’ with Detective McTuft from Seattle on
board.  He knows me well, and is, like myself, on the track of the same
delightful trio."

"Oh," said the captain, with growing interest.

"What could be easier than to make an inquiry by wireless, requesting
McTuft to prove our identity?"

The captain rose, but immediately sat down again.  "Not impossible," he
said at last, "Moreland, call up the ’Albatross,’ then we shall hear."

Wallion exchanged a look of triumph with Tom, but their present position
was rather hazardous all the same.  The operator bent over his
apparatus, whilst the others kept silent; he called up the ’Albatross,’
and waited for an answer.  It came at once:

"Who wants ’Albatross’?"

"Maurice Wallion, on board the ’Ariadne,’" replied Moreland.  "Ask
McTuft if he will, please, come to the apparatus."

"So far I have told you the truth, you see," remarked Wallion, while
they were waiting for the reply.  "I presume fire-arms will no longer be
needed."

"No," replied the Captain, curtly; "but I mean to get to the bottom of
this," he said, adding: "if you have told the truth and anybody down
there in the barge heard you, this room may prove a dangerous place for
you."

"There is no danger; the air-pump and windlass drown the wireless, and
what is more, their attention is entirely taken up with those gold
chests."

Moreland made a sudden movement as the reply came: "McTuft is here, go
ahead, ’Ariadne.’"

"Will you speak, Captain, or shall I?" said Wallion.

He and Tom laid aside their arms as being no longer required.  Captain
Hawkins was deeply interested, and said:

"Let me, please, Mr. Wallion."  Then he proceeded to dictate his message
to Moreland: "Request McTuft to furnish us with a description of
Wallion."

Moreland sent it off immediately, and after a scarcely perceptible delay
a prompt answer came through space: "Maurice Wallion, detective from
Sweden; tall, thin, eyes gray, complexion dark, hair brushed back from
forehead; has Thomas Murner with him, do you want HIS description as
well?"

Whilst the captain was hesitating about the next inquiry to make,
further signs of life arrived from McTuft; he asked: "What’s the matter
with Wallion?  Anything gone wrong?"

"No, nothing," dictated Hawkins, gloomily; "only that he wants to
impress upon the ’Ariadne’s’ company that certain proceedings are
unavoidable; send information regarding his business on board the yacht
for registration."

The reply, a very emphatic one, came at once; one might have fancied it
was in McTuft’s own indignant tones: "It is Wallion’s business to arrest
every single soul on board the ’Ariadne,’ if they make a fuss; first and
foremost the owner and his party; will that do for you?"

"That’s enough," said Hawkins, and laughed; then he added rather
seriously: "I am quite convinced now, Mr. Wallion.  It is an unsavory,
horrible story, and my own plight is most deplorable; but, of course, I
must bow to the law.  What do you wish me to do?"

"That depends" ... said Wallion.  He turned to Moreland and dictated as
follows: "It is I, Wallion, speaking.  Thanks for information, how long
before the ’Albatross’ will reach Hurricane Island?"

Out of the darkness came McTuft’s reply: "Thanks to you for information
given last night; the ’Albatross’ will be up in half-an-hour."  There
the odd conversation ended.  Wallion got on to his feet and laughingly
remarked to Tom:

"I begin to appreciate McTuft’s tenacity.  He has no intention of
missing the last act of the tragedy.  I fancy I see him now on the
’Albatross.’"

He put his head out of the window for a moment.  The work on the barge
below was being carried on undisturbed; the pumps moaned and the
windlass creaked at regular intervals.

"Are the crew to be trusted?" asked Wallion.

"Yes, if I may have the handling of them," answered the captain.

The pilot undertook to call the men in one by one and to explain the
circumstances to them.

"Yes, that would perhaps be the best," Wallion agreed; "what is your
opinion about the five men on the barge?"

"They belong to the wharf and they will give no trouble," said the
captain.  "I don’t think any of the workmen on the wharf are
particularly delighted with their employers."

"First rate.  I propose that you will call your men to the chart-room
and tell them to be quiet; it is not necessary for them to interfere.
Dixon and his two associates are armed, but we shall get the better of
them before they have finished their business down there."

All except Moreland left the cabin.

"Tom," said Wallion in a low voice, "in about ten minutes there will be
a nice scuffle; you keep an eye on the barge whilst I help the captain
to prepare the crew, and come up to the chart-room if any of our three
friends make as though they meant to return to the yacht."

Tom leant over the rails on the bridge and looked down into the barge;
he felt that never again in all his life would he find himself in such
company or such a situation as this.  He was calm and resolute, and his
gaze was firmly fixed on what lay before him.



                            *CHAPTER XXIII*

                       *GO SHARES ... THEN PART*


The rays of the searchlight fell upon the deck of the barge, on the rude
planks of which a strange scene was being enacted, In the background lay
Fir Island, like a dark side-piece, and the water in the channel rose
and fell in glittering, heaving billows.  On the stage, below where Tom
stood, were eight performers all told.

Dixon and Corman, in the center of the barge and still motionless, were
smoking, and had lighted their cigarettes without exchanging a word;
Toroni sat on the railing as close as possible to the spot where the
ever-seething air bubbles in the water indicated the place where the
diver was working on the wreck sixty feet below.  Two men attended to
the air-pumps, one looked after the tube and signal-rope, and two others
stood ready by the stake, from which wire ropes hung down into the deep.

But the picture had undergone a marvelous change since Tom had watched
it from the loophole in the saloon.  A collection of wooden cases of
dark and curious appearance had been deposited on planks in a pool of
muddy water. These cases were almost square and provided with thick iron
bands; the offside of each showed letters carefully incised.  Tom
thought he could detect the name "Craig Russel" on one of the chests....
They contained gold from the ill-fated "King Solomon," which, after
sixteen years, had at last come up from the bottom of the sea.

He counted the chests and had got as far as ten when the man in charge
of the signal-rope raised his hand; the two on duty at the stake rushed
over the tackling to the edge of the boat, and half a minute later the
eleventh chest was hauled up over the railing and placed by the side of
the others; then the wire rope slackened.

Toroni bent over this last chest and closely examined it on all sides.
Like the others it was sound and uninjured; made of good, stout oak, the
chests were in a wonderful state of preservation, though the wood had
turned nearly black and the iron bands had been eaten away by rust and
came off in bits.  Apparently satisfied, Toroni returned to his post of
observation in silence; his two companions had not stirred.

The diver down on the wreck seemed working with a will, and ere long the
twelfth case made its appearance.  There were three more to come up, and
Toroni and his accomplices had all but attained their object.

There was something rather ghastly in the grim silence observed by these
three, within reach of the coveted six millions they had agreed to
share.  What was it that so deeply engrossed their thoughts at this
moment?

Tom was inclined to believe that he could pretty well guess what was in
Dixon’s mind; he meant to have the gold conveyed to the big motor-boat
from the wharf and to smuggle it over the frontier into Canada, before
abandoning the "Ariadne" with Elaine, Tom, and the other intruders on
board.  There was every prospect of such a plan proving successful,
provided nothing occurred to nip it in the bud, but ... did that plan
fit in with Toroni’s calculations?

Tom narrowly scrutinized that little man’s ill-favored countenance with
its black beard, shifty eyes and pale brow; he appeared no longer to
worry about Dixon or Corman, his eyes swept the water’s which concealed
"King Solomon."

Chests thirteen and fourteen also were safely transferred to the barge;
water flowed over the planks freely, and masses of seaweed were thrown
up all around.

Tom looked uneasily at the clock.  Wallion had said ten minutes, but
already twenty had elapsed.  He turned his head; deliberations still
seemed to be going on in the hut; he could distinguish the captain’s
broad back, Wallion’s clear-cut profile and the pilot’s anxious
features; the last of the sailors had left and gone down.  Tom turned
his eyes to the deck; the crew had disappeared, but inquisitive eyes
peered from the forecastle.  The men were evidently prepared.

All at once the door of the hut was pushed open, and Wallion came out,
followed by Hawkins and Weston, pocketing their fire-arms.

The windlass creaked for the fifteenth time ... the last remnant of
"King Solomon’s cargo was on its way up.  Wallion looked down, his sharp
features had assumed a hard, resolute expression.

"Just right," he said.  "You, Mr. Weston, had better go down and keep an
eye on the men and will you, Captain Hawkins, please remain on the
bridge.  You and I, Tom, will move a little nearer to our
fellow-travelers down there."

Noiselessly they climbed down to the "Ariadne’s" lower deck, then made
their way along under the bridge which brought them within five yards of
Dixon and Corman, who were standing with their backs turned to the
yacht, not suspecting anything.  Toroni was just getting on his feet
again after a minute inspection of the fifteenth and last chest, which
stood dripping beside the others.  The diver came up and climbed over
the side of the barge; his helmet was unscrewed and the air-pump ceased
working.

All was quiet.  Toroni turned to his two friends.

"None of them have been damaged," he said, in a voice which ended in a
hoarse whisper. "Look sharp now, it’s all done....  Let’s get away with
the stuff as fast as we can.  Quick."

Dixon sighed as if he were just waking from a bad dream.  He threw away
the stump of his cigarette, turned his head in the direction of the
bridge and shouted: "Captain Hawkins, give the signal for the motor-boat
to come here."

The Captain neither moved nor spoke, but Wallion leveled his revolver.

"No signal is required, Dixon," he answered, "everything is arranged."

Dixon and Corman swung round and stared Wallion full in the face.

The Doctor muttered an oath and felt for his pocket.  Wallion and Tom
looked at him fixedly, and the former said:

"Don’t add another to the list of your crimes; that would be foolish."

Dixon’s lips had assumed an ashen hue, and he had evidently to make a
tremendous effort to stand steady.

"Oho, so it was you, Mr. Wallion," he said with some bitterness in his
tone.  "Well, I give in, I have got into deep water.  Corman, my boy, it
wasn’t written in the stars that this was the way we were to get
rich...."  Then, looking at Wallion, he said: "And what do you intend to
do with us?"

"You are my prisoner, Dixon, and you too, Corman.  Go shares and then
dissolve partnership, that was your program, wasn’t it?  Well, the six
millions will be shared, but not with you, and the partnership will be
dissolved, though not quite in the way you intended."

Toroni, whom Wallion had kept well under observation, stood as if glued
to the spot, his piercing black eyes fixed on the "Problem Solver."

The five bargemen and the diver were huddled together in a frightened
heap.  Toroni looked round.

"Don’t expect you’ll get any help," said Wallion sternly.  "Come here,
Toroni....  What? ... You would? ... Look out, Tom."

Quick as lightning Toroni had taken refuge behind the gold chests,
pulled out his revolver and fired; the bullet made a hole in the wall of
the hut.  Wallion stooped and took aim, but he could not sight his
adversary.  Tom caught a glimpse of Toroni’s right hand as he again
raised his weapon between two of the chests and fired at random without
any particular aim. A flash and a bang followed; Tom felt something like
the sting of a whip on his left temple. He put up his hand; his fingers
were wet and smeared with blood.  He let fall his Browning and believed
he heard himself call out: "I am wounded"; but in reality no sound
passed his lips.  He took a few steps without knowing where he was
going, staggered and fell forward unconscious.

Toroni had dropped on his knees.  He was grinning and showing his teeth
like a wild beast.  Under cover of the gold chests, he shot time after
time at Wallion, who promptly returned the fire, and knew he had not
missed his mark, but Toroni seemed possessed of an evil spirit.

"Give in," shouted Wallion.  "I want to take you alive."

Toroni rose to his full height and threw away his weapon; he had fired
his last shot.  In his eyes there was the look of an untamed tiger....
Furious anger at the loss of what he thought already safe within his
sordid grasp, lust of the millions upon which his thoughts had centered
through sixteen years, had obliterated every trait of humanity.

"Never," he said huskily; he took a step forward....  A long, sharp
knife gleamed in his hand as he raised it towards Wallion.  At the same
instant Madame Lorraine’s voice was heard:

"You devil!  It was you who dragged us down to perdition."

She had come to the railing of the yacht and picked up Tom’s revolver.
She looked as if she were intent on fulfilling a long neglected duty.
She fired....  Toroni dropped the knife and reeled backwards, his
failing eyes still sought the gold chests, then he folded his hands upon
his breast, turned, staggered against the side of the barge, and blindly
stretching out his arms, fell into the water.  As his body sank, great
bubbles rose to the turbid surface; the thirteenth passenger of the
"King Solomon" had returned to where the gold had lain which lured him
to his fate.  Madame Lorraine silently retired to her cabin.

Dixon and Corman had looked on at the short but unforgettable scene with
indifference and apathy.  Their parts were played and they had neither
the power nor the will to offer any resistance to the law.

Weston and two of the sailors went on board the barge and conveyed the
two friends to the upper deck of the "Ariadne."  They moved listlessly,
like automatons, and Dixon sank wearily into one of the basket-chairs.
He buried his head in his hands and, looking up at Wallion’s approach,
said feebly:

"I suppose jail will be our next destination, Mr. Wallion?"

The latter nodded and said nothing.  He rather pitied Dixon, whose gray
and crestfallen features had aged in a few days by ten years.

Doctor Corman stood behind him, stoical and resigned, with folded arms.
"Ah, well," he muttered.  "Toroni came off best after all."

By Wallion’s orders Tom had been carried down into the saloon.  The
young man had only a flesh-wound, and that a slight one, on one of his
temples; but the shock had stunned him and he was still unconscious.

As soon as Wallion had satisfied himself that his friend was not in
danger, he returned to the upper deck.  He had heard distant signals
across the water.  The lights of a steamer soon became visible in the
channel.  She was approaching at full speed.  It was the "Albatross,"
with McTuft on board, his red hair blowing round his head like flames of
fire.

"Hallo, Wallion," lie cried, "are things all right, or have I come too
late?"

"You have come in the nick of time," was Wallion’s answer, "to take
these fifteen chests, which contain gold, on board the ’Albatross,’ and
set the police seal on them.  There you see Mr. Dixon and Doctor Corman;
it is now your duty to arrest them.  We shall remain on the ’Ariadne’
with Captain Hawkins to take us back to Seattle.  That’s all, I
think...."

"But what about Ferail?"

"Ferail, otherwise No. 13 Toroni, is dead."

McTuft cast a long inquiring look at Wallion.

"If only you were a Scotchman now proud I should be of you," he said.



                             *CHAPTER XXIV*

                          *AFTER THE CONFLICT*


When Tom regained consciousness it was with the feeling that his body
was lying at full length in a swing and that a screw was being driven
into his head.  He heard the clank of chains and the starting of
machinery.  His memory came back by slow degrees.  A snapshot in black
and white representing the deck of the barge, figures moving and smoke
curling up in thick clouds floated across his brain. "Yes, of course, I
have been wounded," he thought confusedly.

And then something even more strange occurred, and that quite close to
his side.  Someone was breathing hard and saying in a broken voice:

"Wake up, dearest, look at me, and say that you are not in danger, my
dear one, my love." ... Two soft, warm lips were pressed on his, then
shyly withdrawn, only to return in a passionate kiss.  It was indeed
marvelous!

"I expect I am dreaming," he thought as he opened his eyes.

Elaine’s tear-stained, lovely face was very near to his, an expression
of unspeakable anxiety and distress in her eyes.  He raised himself upon
his elbow and put a hand up to his head; it was tightly bandaged.

"Won’t you say once more what you said just now?" he murmured, rather
incoherently.

She bent her head and blushed.

"It is all over now," she said softly; "Dixon and Corman are prisoners,
and Toroni is dead; it was he who fired at you, and oh ... I am so glad
that the wound is not dangerous."

Tom fell back against the cushions.  He had discovered that he was lying
on the couch in the saloon and they were alone.

"I don’t know," he said, hesitating.  "I fancy it might be most
dangerous unless I have a kind and loving nurse."

"I shall try to do my best," she replied in a gentle tone.

He sat up with a bound and drew her to him.

"Elaine," he said, "I love you."

She lay still in his arms; he raised her head and kissed her.  "I have
loved you from the first moment I saw you," he said.

She smiled faintly.  "That’s an old, old story which you can read in any
book."

"Yes, I know that.  I only said it as the correct thing and as a matter
of form.  But really, Elaine, I have loved you from the time when you
were recovering from the fever of your wound, and I saw you at the
window in my smoking-room.  My darling, say once more what you said just
now when I opened my eyes."

She bent down, looked into his eyes, and said: "I love you."

"No, say it in Swedish," he said, in a tone of command.

"_Jag älskar dig_," she repeated obediently.

                            *      *      *

A month later Maurice Wallion was sitting in a chair facing the Chief of
the Secret Service Division of New York in his private office. They were
smoking the cigars the Chief had once mentioned on the telephone, and he
was listening with intense interest to Wallion’s graphic story.

"Well, and what do you think of McTuft?" he said genially when the story
was finished.

"A fine, intelligent fellow, but as obstinate as a mule," replied
Wallion, laughing.  "I strongly recommend him for promotion."

The Chief sat quiet for a time, turning over in his mind the tale he had
just heard.

"It will be a perplexing business to discover all those heirs and share
out the gold properly."

"A local Seattle paper is going to take the initiative and form a sort
of Managing Committee," said Wallion, "but William Robertson was not
anxious that all the world should know about it and, I suppose, the
higher powers will also have a word to say in the matter."

"Naturally.  By the way, I conclude you will not be present when Dixon
and Corman come up for trial?"

"No, I have other business in hand, but I left with the Public
Prosecutor a clear and full account of my part in the affair.  In a way,
I am rather sorry for Dixon: his power and influence were in reality
only nominal ... he coveted wealth and position, and was dragged down
against his better knowledge.  As to Madame Lorraine, she is sure to be
acquitted, for she was entirely under her brother’s sway.  But Doctor
Corman deserves and must expect severe punishment; he knew well enough
what he was doing."

"Yes," said the Chief Detective, meditatively, "we humans are a queer
lot to be called the ’crowning piece’ of creation.  And the nice little
lady ... Elaine Robertson, what promises does the future hold out to
her?"

"Elaine Murner, once Robertson, you mean; she is very well, judging from
Tom’s jubilant telegram despatched immediately after the wedding.  Her
father is coming over to Sweden to take up his abode with Christian
Dreyel. Elaine, of course, will be with her happy—architect husband...."

For a time they continued to smoke without speaking, then the Chief
asked:

"Now, as to your own plans, Wallion: the man who saved King Solomon’s
millions has a right to a good big reward."

But Maurice Wallion interrupted him, and stooping, unlocked a Gladstone
bag which lay at his feet.  Extracting therefrom twelve brown wooden
dolls, he set them in a row on the table, and said with a laugh:

"As a reward I claim these ... as a souvenir of


                            NO. 13 TORONI."



           *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *



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