Newspaper Page Text
San Francisco Sunday Call.
(Continued from Preceding Page.)
Donaque, approaching him by $ flank
The old sexton "bridled with pleasure.
No, he protested he was not the Mayor
(thanking the gentleman all the
same); he had no such luck! He was
simply a humble servant of the church
and Its children —a sexton.
Donaque accepted the proffered seat
at the old man's side and gently drew
him on. Presently, quite by chance,
they were discussing the sudden death
of M. Fautaat. The sexton with pride
told how he had visited the chateau
had personally prepared the body
for deportation to Paris. He had had
a guard, too—a gendarme, all the time.
It was no small affair, that!
"What was the name of the gen
darme?" inquired Donaque.
fc. "Tonnetti," answered the sexton.
"There he is now, the lazy lout, on
that corner, over there. You see the
way it was was this: I had just had
my coffee when Mathilde, my wife,
cries out that some one is coming.
So I rush to the door, and who Iβ
there but M. Bertrand, the valet 'M.
Faubert is dead,' says he, 'and you
must come to lay him out. , 'Alack!'
I answered, 'and what did he die of? , —
for, to tell you the truth, I had no idea
that the gentleman in question was the
great Minister of Finance. 'Some sud
den shock, , he replied. 'It is inex
pressibly cad.' So I put on my hat
and jumped into the trap with him.
On the way we stopped at the Mayor's
house and told him, and he sent Jules
to wait there until some of the proper
officials might arrive—such as the Cor
oner and his physician.
"Well, you may be sure that by that
time I was highly excited; but I kept
my wite together, and presently we
.were driving up the great avenue to
the chateau. But you should see those
oaks, my friend! They are wondwful!
A servant In livery opened the door
and conducted us up the marble stairs
to a magnificent bedroom where lay M.
Faubert, the distinguished statesman.
He reclined upon the bed, his head
slightly to the left. M. Bertrand raised
Ihe shutters, which had been closed
cut of respect for the deceased, and
asked to be excused. Jules, there, sat
like a great ox on the couch and con
stantly repeated the words 'Magnifi
cent! Extraordinary!" as if he might
never bja in such a place again.
"So I busied myself at my work, and,
do not laugh, M'sieu—but observe how
close, after all, are the great and lowiy
—'on the turf and under the turf all
men are equal. Well, as I was saying,
M. Faubert was fuliy dressed in ele
gant clothes —clothes for evening such
as are worn in the great cities —with
a fine white waistcoat; but thnre wasj
cne little thing he had not —what do!
ycu suppose, eh? Will you believe me,;
M'sieu, when I tell you (but it is a'
fact) that the great M. Faubert had no
button on the back of his collar! I
glanced about on the floor and upon
the cabinets, but there was none. So
la a moment of inspiration I removed
my own —a modest one of bone such
as you may buy for a sou—and put it
on him! And now the great statesman
Is to be buri-ed In the old sexton's bone
collar button! Which all goes to
prove, does it not, that all men are
The long shadows of the oaks
reached across the lawn and the
weather vanes upon the towers swam
in the last glimmering shafts of the
setting sun when Donaque drove up
the gravelled drive to the massive
carved door of the chateau.
"Madame denies herself to every
body," declared the liveried lackey who
to Donaque's summons in a
Knanner ill concealing a congenital in
6olence. It did not escape Donaque,
who had instantly taken the fellow's
measure. He scribbled something upon
a card and half threw it at the lackey.
"Take that to your mistress and be
quick about it!" said he. A few min
utes later the servant reappeared.
"Madame la Baronne will see Mon
eieur," he announced, opening wide the
door and hurrying to remove Donaque's
valise from the trap.
The latter followed the man up a
flight of winding marble steps, above
which floated the tattered banners of
ancient France. Through mullioned
windows the parti-colored lights of
sunset illuminated their stained but
■\ividly glowing reds and purples. At
the head of the staircase they came to
the door of a huge salon with polished
floor and exquisite furniture of the
period of the last Louis. The candle?
were already lighted in the sconces,
end in the conflicting light Donaque
could see a woman with masses of
yellow hair reclining in a lounge chair
nnon a rue made of the skin of a polar
Donaque entered unannouueed.
The Great Detectfoe Story
glasses he could
see a woman
dressed in flimsy
Tae woman raised a pair of dark
gray eyes and shot a penetrating look
across the room—the look of a woman
harassed by nervousness or fear, yet
mistress of herself and the situation.
"Enter, Monsieur. To what, may I
ask, am I indebted for the honor of
this visit?" she asked, coldly.
Donaque approached to within a
dozen paces and bowed courteously.
"The Republic, Madame, is deeply af
flicted at the loss of so useful a public
servant as M. Faubert."
The Baroness made a gesture of im
"And am I to suffer intrusion and
annoyance, in consequence, for the next
six months?" she demanded.
Donaque shrugged his shoulders. It
might have been out of sympathy—
the gesture might have carried other
"The Republic, Madame, is deeply in-'
terested in the manner of his death."
The woman started in spite of her
"Does the Minister of War suspect
that violence was committed? How
ridiculous! The inquest has disposed
of all such foolish suspicions. There
is no one here" —-
She stopped abruptly, and her eyes
searched his face.
"Yes. Madame, you have seen me be
fore. Perhaps Madame can recollect."
For a moment the Baroness hesi
tated. "You are mistaken," she an
swered, deliberately. "I have not the
honor of Monsieur's acquaintance."
"A thousand pardons, Madame!" re
plied Donaque, as If pained at the nec
essary contradiction. "At the Hotel
d'Espagne, in the year 1898, I had the
pleasure of attending for a day Frau
lein l*ena Schmidt, or Henchel, as I be
lieve you then were."
Her face paled almost imperceptibly
under the candle light. "May I ask
your business?" she inquired, care
"An agent of the Secret Service of
France," he answered. "I am known
by various names. Herr Vogel, I be
lieve, I called myself at. Vienna when
we last met. That will do as v/ell as
"Vogel?" she repeated, as if
oring to evoke some shape out of the
gray mists of the past. "Vogel?"
"What do you want with me?" she
"I must know how M. Faubert met
Her lids drooped over her gray eyes. I
"Yes? And how will you proceed?"
"By the ordinary methods of Investi
Her jewelled fingers played lightly
on the inlay of the table beside her.
"I am at your service, Monsieur."
Donaque bowed. "It will be neces
sary, and I trust not embarrassing, that
1 pay Madame the Baroness a snort
"What!" she demanded, incredu
lously. "Here? Absurd!"
"It must be so, Madame," he re- ,
turned. "Otherwise" He paused
"It will save Madame much incon
venience," he concluded, gently.
The Baroness laughed. "Monsieur,
you—the Republic of France does me
too much honor!" '
"I beg of Madame not to be dis
pleased," petitioned Donaque.
"And if I refuse?"
The Baroness paused for a full half
minute. "I prefer Neuilly," she smiled '
through her pallor. "What are Mon
•To pass the next few hours pre- J
cisely as did M. Faubert before he i
died!" announced Donaque, sharply.
The Baroness gave an enigmatical '
smile. "As Monsieur wishes!"
She touched a china bell upon the '
tripod at her elbow, and the lackey
entered. "Monsieur will remain here
for the night. Send for Bertrand."
For the space of three minutes ;
Donaque and the woman eyed each
other narrowly. At the end of that
time a handsome, bronzed, broad-shoul
dered man in the dress' of a valet en- '
"Show Monsieur to the chamber oc- 11
cupied by M. Faubert last .Wednesday i
night," said the Barones3, in a peculiar i
voice, the timbre of which aroused
long forgotten memories in Donaque. |
"M'sieu will dress for dinner? Yes.
Bertrand, see that Monsieur is properly ;
taken care of."
Donaque gave her a low bow. "Ma- «
dame is too kind!" he smiled. "May <
I ask if you have other guests staying
The Baroness shook her head. "I
am alone, Monsieur."
Bertrand conducted Donaque up an
other flight of stairs and down a hall
to the huge bedchamber described by
the old sexton. The sun had sunk be
hind the trees, and in the recesses of
the room a silvery dusk had already
gathered; but the valet touched a but
ton near the door and flooded them
with the light of a multitude of elec
tric lamps. The chief object of furni
ture was a magnificent Louis XIV.
"The bath is here, Monsieur," said
the valet, with a slightly Teutonic ac
cent, opening a door near the head of
"Donaque nodded. He was less inter
ested in the toilet arrangements than
In the man himself, for to the de
tective's observant eye he
was no more
a valet than an ass masquerading in
a lion's skin. If this man were, in fact,
a servant, he was one accustomed to
the unusual occupations of tennis,
hunting and other forms of outdoor
sport. He could never have acquired
such a tan below stairs.
"You are a Frenchman?" suddenly
"Yes," replied the man, uneasily.
His bearing and demesror were not
unlike those of a man accustomed to be
waited on himself, and bis lowering
brotf J and coal black eyc3 Indicated a
temper V ss usual in a servant than a
"What time is dinner?" asked
Donaque, throwing himself into a Mg
chair and taking a cigarette from his
jacket with a d#Hb*/jt&M of which ;.Ve
ostensible valet took no advantage to
offer him a light.
"In three-quarters of an hour,
"I will rest here," said Donaque.
"You need not remain."
"I will then fetch Monsieur's valise,"
answered Bertrand. He bowed slightly
and left the room, leaving the door
Donaque watched his shadow vanish
down the hallway. Then he sprang j
from his chair and minutely examined
the great bed in which M. Faubert had
breathed his last. Next he ran his
fingers over the panels of the walls,
peered into the vases, of which there
were several; shook the folds of the
hangings and took a rapid survey of
the bathroom. His entire inspection I
did not occupy more than three min
utes, and he had regained his chair and
remained there motionless for a full
quarter of an hour more before the
valet's footfalls echoed on the stairs.
In his right hand he carried Do
naque's valise, but its weight was hard
ly enough to account for the tiny drops
gathered upon his brow or the nervous-1
ness of his steps. Fear and animal
hate struggled for supremacy in his
eyes. Something had occurred during
his absence to unsteady his nerves.
Donaque had expected that it would
occur. Yet he had not expected that
the signs of it would be so obvious.
That the Baroness should seize her op
portunity was only natural, however,
and only by giving her the opportunity
in question could he hope to learn her
secret. He was deliberately staking his
life in order that he might discover
how she would attempt to take it.
But to Donaque this was part of the
game. Therein lay the humor of his
request "to pass the next few hours
precisely as did M. Faubert before he
died," and her direction to Bertrand to ,
"see that Monsieur is properly taken j
care of." Donaque, lazily smoking his
cigarette, with an open novel in his lap,
was waiting witL lynx-like intensity to
see in just what manner he was going
to be "cared for "
Bertrand laid the valise upon the bed
and, opening it, commenced to lay out
in an orderly manner Donaque's eve
ning clothes. The detective appeared
to resume the reading which he had
momentarily interrupted to toss the
valet the key of the valise.
"Monsieui will bathe?" inquired the
"Yes," answered Donaque, without
raising his eyes.
Bertrand moved to the adjoining
bathroom and turned on the water.
Behind, upon the bed, lay, neatly ar
ranged, Donaque's underclothes, socks,
trousers, waistcoat, collar, tie and
shirt His fingers seemed to be all
thumbs, but finally he inserted the col
"The man died in terrible agony, , * he said
i The Bareness uttered a gasping cry.
lar button in the back and fastened
hereto the collar. Donaque arose slow
ly from where he was sitting and
closed the door of the chamber, as if
to insure the privacy necessary for
dressing; but before his hand left the
knob his fingers deftly turned the key
in the lock and removed it. Then he
sauntered toward the bed.
"I observe," he remarked, carelessly,
nursing his mustache with one hand,
"that you have presented me with a
Bertrand gave an Involuntary start
and tried Ineffectually to speak.
"I"—he stammered at last, avoiding
the eyes of Donaque—"Monsieur had
no button in his collar, and I took the
liberty of offering him one of my
"Very kind of you," replied Do
laque, taking up the shirt and examin
ing the humble implement in question.
It was a sufficiently ordinary look
ing affair and differed from those
ivhich one purchases in the shops only
n that It seemed to be ma.de of silver
instead of brass plated with gold.
"Very kind of you indeed," repeated
he detective. "But I am unaccus
omed to collar buttons of silver—in
!act, I am rather eccentric in my
iianner of drees, and have a pro
lounced penchant for buttons of
Drass. No doubt you have another,
sh? Would it be asking too much to
request you, for instance, to remove
;he one you have on and exchange it
Bertrand turned pale under the tan.
He seemed to be stifling.
"Certainly, if Monsieur will be co
kind as to permit me to remove the
cne now in the shirt, I will fetch him
another button from my room."
"You would not care to wear this
one yourself?" he asked mockingly.
"Does it by any chance resemble the
one worn by M. Faubert on the night
of his death?"
He detached it from the neckband
of the shirt and held It before the eyes
of the valet, who with an oath leaped
to one side and struck the object from
"Pig of a Frenchman!" he gasped
and, springing to the door, tried to
open it. Then, for the first time real
izing that his escape was barred, he
gave vent to a snarl of rage and faced
Donaque defiantly, his face trans
formed into that of a handsome beast.
"Come, my friend," said Donaque
soothingly. "Do not resort to vio
lence. The only question between us is
whether or not you will go with me
For answer Bertrand suddenly ex
tinguished the lights. For a moment
the two held their breath in silence.
The curtains had been drawn, and
the darkness of night was in the room
—a darkness heavy, thick, oppres
sive as that of a jungle. Yet in the
darkness one solitary gleam of light
was visible —a pale, bluish glow like a
bead of phosphorus in the wake of a
boat's stern—from beneath a table in
a distant corner of the great room.
Donaque knew that the man's first
thought would be to regain possession
of the fantastic instrument of death to
which the ingenuity of his mistress
had resorted, a means undemonstrable
without the implement itself —the col
lar button of M. Faubert! For a mo
ment the silence was unbroken save
for the heavy breathing of the valet;
then Donaque heard the nap of the
carpet softly stir under stealthy, cat
like footsteps. Bertrand was moving
toward the bead of light. Donaque
silently crept in the same direction,
keeping pace with the almost noise
less noise of the others feet.
They had now cohered the length of
the room, and the shape of the button
as it lay upon its side under the table
was distinctly visible. Donaque, by
some exteriorized power of sense, felt
the valet stoop and stretch his arm
toward the spot of light. This was the
moment for him to act. Silently Do
naque sprang, his fingers clutching
for Uertrand's throat. At the same
noment his head came into contact with
an intervening object which fell with
a crash, carrying him with it. For an
Instant he lay half stunned. The sound
of heavy breathing and of scrambling
feet told him that Bertrand had se
cured the prize. The next move of the
valet would be to make good his es
cape—through the window, probably.
In an instant Donaque was on his
feet again, creeping toward the win
lows. He could no longer hear or
see anything. He stopped and peered
through the darkness. At the same
instant, not three feet from him and
at about the same distance from the
floor, suddenly reappeared a bluish
blur of light. Slowly it moved in a
horizontal direction across the room.
Donaque's pulse quickened as he real
ized that the valet, in his excitement,
had forgotten the penetrating quality
of the rays of radium. Two feet above
the glow Donaque knew were Ber
trand's shoulders; above them was
Bertrand's head—the man was at his
Measuring his distance Donaque
darted behind the valet and, getting
a strangle hold upon his neck, nres3ed
a tiny sphere of glass to the man's
nose and mouth, cracking it to flinders
as he did so between his fingers. A
sharp, pungent odor pierced the air
as with a knife, and Bertrand col
lapsed without a struggle.
A moment later in the white light
of the electric lamps Donaque exam
ned his victim curiously as he snapped
a pair of slender chains upon the
man's wrists and ankles and thrust a
gag made of a bath towel into his
mouth. The little ethode had done its
work well and quickly — more accu
rately and usefully than any firearm.
He had taken his man alive—so much
more businesslike than putting the
final quietus upon him and by an en
forced silence destroying his useful
"As I expected!" muttered Donaque,
as his fingers came in contact in an
other of the valet's pockets with a
tiny case of lead, the interior of which
bore the imprint of a collar button.
The detective placed the button inside
it and, closing the case, concealed it
carefully in an inside pocket of his
coat. No rays, however powerful,
could penetrate that magic wall of
lead. The giant was chained and help
less until Donaque should see fit to
release him. The genie was in his bot
tle. And that genie was worth, in the
specie of France, exactly sixty thou
He dragged Bertrand to the foot of
the bed and tied him there, helpless,
with its linen sheets. The little clock
of Dresden on the mantel struck the
quarter. Donaque was beginning to
feel hungry. The water was still run
ning in the bathroom. The valet re
mained unconscious. Glancing first at
the door, the detective unconcernedly
removed his clothes and took a bath,
after which he dried himself luxuri
ously upon the remaining bath towel,
and donned his evening clothes. Then
he repacked his valise, placed It out
side, and, locking the door of the
chamber, thrust the key into his
"I trust Bertrand has made you quite
comfortable!" asked the Baroness, as
she indicated the seat opposite her
own at the great table in the dining
room a few moments later.
The detective raised his glass to his
lips. "He was more than attentive,"
Donaque ate with a good appetite,
enjoying the deftness and rapidity of
the service, and the daintiness of the
china and table linen. Such things
outside his own business appealed to
him. Likewise he gave his unstinted
admiration to the subtle beauty of the
woman before him, the perfect outline
of whose features was just beginning
to show the fullness of maturity. Her
self-control was superb; yet now and
then she betrayed a nervousness which
he fully appreciated. She was won
dering, watching, waiting for him to
show some sign of the deadly effect
of the genie in the bottle. Fish fol
lowed soup, and an entree the fish.
The best of French and German wines
filled the glasses at his elbow, and no
restaurant of Paris could have sur
passed this strange meal in culinary
perfection. The Baroness talked light
ly of the country round, the history
of the chateau —even of M. Faubert,
praising his great qualities of mind
and spirit. The dessert was removed,
and a serving man passed coffee and
liqueurs, with slender Persian cigar
ettes. His hostess placed one between
her lips, lighted it, and with elbows
on the table sent a challenging glance
through the smoke to the man sitting
so calmly opposite her.
"And, so far, are you satisfied with
the manner in which M. Faubert spent
his last evening upon earth?" she
"Truly, after such a banquet, with
so charming and beautiful a hostess,
one would choose either to live on for
ever in her company or—to die leav
! ing the memory of it undisturbed."
I answered Donaque.
The Baroness laughed, flattered at
I a compliment even from a police of
j ficial. Moreover, the grotesque and
bitter humor of the situation—for Do
j naque—appealed to her. Before mid
: night he would be no longer to be
"It is always thus, my friend, la
jit not?" said she. "Eat, drink and
I enjoy yourself, for to-morrow you
Donaque read her thoughts. Inside
j his mask he, too, was laughing.
"So soon?" he smiled.
"Perhaps," shs answered, with half
closed eyes. "If not," she added, "we
might be friends."
For a moment the detective made
no reply. Then he laid down Uia
cigarette and leaned forward. "Ma
dame," said he abruptly, "have you
continued your investigations into the
mysteries of radium?"
"I?" she cried. "Radium?"
"Yes, Madame," returned Donaque.
I"I had always supposed that you had
I the great fortune to possess a con
siderable quantity of that Invaluable
element. Am I not correct?"
The eyes of the Baroness narrowed
to mere slits, and involuntarily she
placed her left hand upon her breast.
"Why do you ask me that?" she de
"Because," returned Donaque. "I
J have found it important in my profes
sion to acquaint myself with some ac
curacy as to the whereabouts of such
amounts of the element as may be
available. For instance, I note that as
Lena Schmidt you twice purchased
during the year 1899 as much as a
quarter grain through Dublatz of
Leipsic. That is no inconsiderable
quantity. A few years later my rec
ords show that half a grain came inio
j your possession through your ac
! quaintance with Dr. Giesel. Within
! eighteen months I am informed you
. secured an entire grain from the Aus
trian Government by means of the in
termediation of the Bureau of Foreign
Affairs and the influence of no less a
person than M. Faubert himself."
The cigarette dropped from the deli
cate fingers of the Baroness Berlitz
and a dusky pallor spread across her
face. The gleam in her eyes changed
from that of the tigress to that of a
frightened fox. But Donaque appeared
to be deep in his own thoughts.
"You and I know the wonderful
qualities of this mysterioiwr element:
yet it is Btrange how little the world
at large is acquainted with its almost
supernatural powers—its terrible effect
upon the human body, for example,
when placed in juxtaposition with a
vital part I have often wondered at
the infrequency with which it hag
been used as a means to take human
life, for it leaves no trace behind it.
Only one case I know —that of a den
tist who filled his victim's tooth with
a composition containing radium bro
mide. The man died in horrible agony
I within a few days—yet no doctor sus
■ pected the cause of the frightful ab
scess upon his jaw."
Donaque stopped and shot a glance
i across the table at the Baroness, who
! sat rigid, her teeth fastened in her
; lower lip, her bosom heaving rapidly.
"How easy it would be," continued
j Donaque relentlessly, "to cause death
iby inducing a person to wear near his
I spinal cord some little object contain
i ing a couple of grains of radium—say
a collar button?"
The Baroness uttered a gasping cry.
"Like this," he added, taking from
his pocket the leaden case and laying
it open upon the table.
The woman sprang to her feet, over-
I turning several of the glasses and gaz
ing wildly at Donaque.
"Bertrand!" she cried, her face
"He will not come, Madame!" said
Donaque gravely. "But perhaps you
will go to him? Is it asking too
She stared at him helplessly.
"This evening I have been your
guest. I must beg the privilege of re
turning your hospitality. I must re
i quest you to become for a little time
the guest of the Republic of France.
To-morrow morning the newspapers
will print the news that there is a
shortage in the accounts of the Minis
try of Finance amounting to five mil
j lion francs. Are you ready to go,
A look of despair crossed her face,
. and her lips framed the noiseless word,
"To Paris, Madame," answered