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they had been on former occasions, marvelous.
(In Martinoff's right sat the Baroness, next to her Bonton, then Baron (irantz, the trusted secretary of the house, and finally Besserley himself completed the five at the table. As soon as coffee was served, decanters of rare wine and old brandy placed upon the table, with cigars and cigarettes within reach, Martinoff said : "The moment is now opportune, Mr. Bonton, for you to repeat the proposals you have made to me. I make no excuse for asking you to do so in the presence of others. 1 am an old man and I do nothing without advice. The Baroness, my niece, is deeply interested. Baron Grantz, my trusted sec retary, is in my entire confidence. General Besserley I have invited because he is a man of the world with a reputation for sound judgment. Will you be so kind as to proceed?" Bonton leaned forward in his chair. "The Prince," he explained, "inoneof those huge transactions which brought him fame and wealth years ago, thought well to accept large commissions from various American houses in connection with the purchase of several battle ships. Some friends of his also interested themselves in the matter. In this clean sweep which is now going on in Wash ington, papers concerning these transactions have come to light. The Fence's share in the matter has been adversely commented upon. I have been sent here to request our host, in return for a certain consideration, to hand me the evidence linking up two other men in these transactions." There was a brief silence. The Prince nodded his head thoughtfully. The Baroness, with a little sob, suddenly clutched at his arm, slipped from her place and went down on her knees by his side. "You will not give it to him," she implored. "You know what it will mean. It will cost Augustus the throne which has been promised him!" Martinoff permitted his hand, with its long delicate fingers and wonderful signet ring, to rest for a moment on the woman's gold-brown hair. He even smoothed it gently. His face, however, was implacable. "Anna," he said, "one has to decide in these matters according to the greater good of the greater number." "But it will mean war," she pleaded. "Surely you can see that." "1 love war," Martinoff acknowledged calmly. "in return ior the documentary evidence concerning two people whom we will not name and one American, who must not be named," Bonton went on, "the department which I represent undertakes to withdraw all charges against you, Prince, and to withdraw the lien upon your assets being put into force in New York. This alone should make you richer by three million pounds." "You cannot do this thing!" Anna cried. "My country — 1 call it mine because I love those who belong to it better than life itself — has made so heroic a struggle. It has won tranquillity owing to the fine government of the man whom you propose to ruin. In a few months now he will be king unless you bring this scandal upon him. What was the harm in his working to earn American gold? You did the,same What you earned went into the coffers of your vast fortune. What he earned went back to his country. You promised me those papers." "I promised you them for a wedding present," Martinoff reminded her. "If things turn out as you say, there can be no marriage. Besides, at that time I promised, 1 was not threatened with this ruinous action. Grantz," he added, "I shall require the opening of Safe K." Anna's shriek rang through the vaulted room. Besserley leaned across the table. "Prince," he said, "you have invited me here as a sort of watching consultant. Am 1 permitted to say one word?" "You may speak if you wish, General," Martinoff assented coldly. "I may add, how ever, that my decision is taken. I have decided to hand over the papers to the authorities at Washington." "You shall not!" Anna cried, writhing in agony. The Prince motioned Grantz towards the door. Besserley, however, had risen to his feet, pushed his chair back, and was standing with his hand outstretched towards the American. "No papers which you hand to your guest. Guy Bonton, Prince," he declared, "will find their way to Washington. Furthermore, he is not in a position to grant you the immunity lie offers." For a moment there was silence. Grantz, half way to the door, stood looking back. Anna, the tears streaming down her face, her liair disheveled, her bosom heaving, stared wildly at Besserley. The Prince, too, was looking directly at him, an hngry frown upon his forehead. Bonton alone in the room seemed, to everyone except Pesserley himself, unchanged. Besserley saw it coming. The man appeared to be turning into ice. He was frozen with that same silent fury which had crept over him during those moments of possible defeat upon the tennis courts. "Have you lost your senses, General?" his host asked. "On the contrary," Besserley replied, "I have been using them to exceedingly good purpose and I have divined the truth. This man Bonton has nothing to do with the Amer ican Government. He is better known to police headquarters than to Washington for the reason that he belongs to the cleverest trio of criminals America has ever known. If you hand him over those papers. Prince, they will be used for blackmail and nothing else ... A little more to the right, please. Baroness." She leaned away. The skill of Besserley's old days had not deserted him. The black muzzle of his gun pointed straight as a line at Bonton's heart. "Very dramatic," Bonton sneered. "How ever, the Prince has at least had his choice. Whether these papers are handed over to me as a representative of the American Govern ment or as Guy Bonton makes little difference. The point is that I am here, and I demand possession of those documents." "Short of killing us all," Martinoff de manded, "may I ask how you intend to enforce your will upon us after General Besserley's revelations?" "I did not travel across from the States without making my preparations," Bonton declared. Martinoff appeared not to hear him. He was leaning forward in an attitude of listening. "Is it my fancy," he asked, "or is there some strange noise outside? A passing aero plane perhaps." They all listened. From somewhert close at hand came the muffled beat of a great engine. The Baroness suddenly called out. She pointed overhead to the beautifully shaded lights. One by one they were growing fainter. Grantz, who had been out of the room for a few moments, entered and hurried to his master 's side. "Your Highness," he announced, "it is im possible to say what is happening. The electric light is fading away. The telephones to the lodge are not working. The bells are not ringing. Outside in the front courtyard there is something which resembles a small tank. One fears almost that the power station is affected." Besserley flung back the heavy curtains. Outside, he could dimly discern the form of some weird-looking vehicle, but probably the greatest shock he had ever received in his life was the fact that between it and the château the air seemed filled with irregular streams of lightnings, at one mome-t green, at another yellow. "Come here, Grantz!" he called out. "There is some new form of wireless at work in the courtyard." Bonton tapped a cigarette upon the table cloth. "There is no need for anyone to disturb themselves," he said coldly. "I know precisely what the machine is doing. I am hoping to sell the rights of it to our host to-morrow morning. I brought it over with me in case I found any difficulty." "And may I ask," Prince Martinoff in quired, "what the machine is doing?" Bonton lit the cigarette which he had been holding between his fingers. "It has by this time," he said, "practically exhausted the accumulated electricity of your power station. When we bought the rights from a Dutchman, we called it a demagnetizer. For some time not a bell in your home will ring, there will be no light except those candles and, ' ' he added with a little bow to the Prince, "the doors of your secret chambers will fly open and the handles of your safes turn of their own accord. You have built up a nar velous scheme of defence here dependent upon electricity alone, Prince. Electricity has failed you." "You are one man, "said Martinoff. "I have a dozen armed servants, and there are our selves." "Unfortunately we outnumber you," Bon ton observed. "My brothi , with fifty of his friends from Genoa, spent last night at La Turbie. They are now within a dozen yards from the various entrances to the grounds. I might add that we possess Maxims and the latest type of bombs. Shall we continue the negotiations?" There was a blank and dismal silence. And then, although no definite sounds reached them, they were all conscious of men outside moving silently to and fro. Besserley leaned forward. "Prince," he pointed out, "we have only Bonton'e word for this epic of destruction. I propose that Grantz and myself go below for a moment. Mr. Bonton perhaps will accom pany us and see what condition your safes are in." Bonton rose at once to his feet. "It would interest me very much," he confessed. Martinoff waved his hand and the three men left the room. Anna, too sick at heart for speech, leaning forward with her head resting upon her arms, seemed to pass into a lethargy of hopeless grief. Finally she stretched out her hand for her uncle's. "Do not let the servants be shot to pieces," she begged quietly. "If Bonton really has his men here from Genoa and the safes are open, we are in their power." There was the sound of footsteps outside. The first to enter was Grantz carrying a black tin box under his arm After him, very much in the background, came Besserley. "The destruction is complete," Grantz re ported despairingly. "Every electric device in the house is ruined." "What have you brought us here?" Mar tinoff asked, pointing to the box. ' 'The papers Eonton is demanding, ' ' Grantz replied fearfully. "The agreement signed by the Archduke and —" Anna rose to her feet with a ringing cry. Martinoff, with a quick glance towards the door, felt in his pocket and produced a key He unlocked the box and drew out several bundles of papers. He found the one he wanted. He held it over the nearest candle. It fluttered away in ashes. Another followed it, and then another. Martinoff sat upright in his high-backed chair and, for the first time for years, he laughed. "That at any rate is finished," he exclaimed. "Relock the box. The rest of the papers are of no particular consequence. Anna, the man and the country you love are safe,'' he told her. Her arms were around his neck, her soft (Continued on Vage Jf) f Illustrationt by George Howe Anna Rote to Her Feet With a Ringing Cry