Mrs. Marlow suddenly raised her head, and spoke quickly.
“You’re forgetting something, Mr. Fullaway,” she said. “You had a letter from Mr. Delkin confirming the provisional agreement, which was that he should have the first option of buying the Princess Nastirsevitch’s jewels, then being brought by Mr. James Allerdyke from Russia.”
“True—true!” exclaimed Fullaway, clapping a hand to his forehead. “So I had! I’d forgotten that. But, after all, it was purely a private letter from Delkin, and—”
“No,” interrupted Mrs. Marlow. “It was written and signed by Mr. Delkin’s secretary. So that the secretary knew of the transaction.”
Van Koon shook his head and glanced at Allerdyke.
“There you are!” he said. “The secretary knew—Delkin’s secretary! How do we know that Delkin’s secretary—?”
“Oh, that’s all rot, Van Koon!” exclaimed Fullaway testily. “Delkin’s secretary, Merrifield, has been with him for years to my knowledge, and—”
But Allerdyke had suddenly risen and was picking up his hat from a side table. He turned to Fullaway as he put it on.
“I quite agree with Mr. Van Koon,” he said, “and as I’m James Allerdyke’s cousin and his executor, I’m going to step round and see this Mr. Delkin at his hotel—the Cecil, you said. It’s no use trifling, Fullaway—Delkin knew, and Mrs. Marlow now tells us his secretary knew. All right!—my job is to see, in person, anybody who knew. Then, maybe, I myself shall get to know.”
Van Koon, too, rose.
“I know Delkin, slightly,” he said. “I’ll go with you.”
At that, Fullaway jumped up, evidently annoyed and unwilling, but prepared to act against his own wishes.
“Oh, all right, all right!” he exclaimed. “In that case we’ll all go. Come on—it’s only across the Strand. Back after lunch, Mrs. Marlow, if anybody wants me.”
The three men marched out, and left the pretty secretary standing by the table from which they had all risen. She stood there for a few minutes in deep thought—stood until a single stroke from the clock on the mantelpiece roused her. At that she walked into the outer office, put on her coat and hat, and, leaving the hotel, went sharply off in the direction of Arundel Street.
THE MILLIONAIRE, THE STRANGER, AND THE PRINCESS
As the three men threaded their way through the crowded Strand and approached the Hotel Cecil, Fullaway suddenly drew their attention to a private automobile which was turning in at the entrance to the courtyard.
“There’s Delkin, in his car,” he exclaimed, “and, great Scott, there’s our Princess with him—Nastirsevitch! But who’s the other man? Looks like a compatriot of ours, Van Koon, eh?”