Allerdyke took the three cablegrams from his visitor and carefully read them through, comparing them with the dates already known to him, and with Fullaway’s messages in reply. Eventually he put all the papers together, arranging them in sequence. He laid them on the table between Fullaway and himself, and for a moment or two sat reflectively drumming the tips of his fingers on them.
“Who is this Princess Nastirsevitch?” he asked suddenly looking up. “Royalty, eh?”
“No,” answered Fullaway, with a smile. “I don’t know much about these European titles and dignities, but I don’t think the title of Prince means in Russia what it does in England. A Prince there, I think, is some sort of nobleman, like your dukes and earls, and so on, here. But, anyway, the Princess Nastirsevitch isn’t a Russian at all, except by marriage—she’s a countryman of my own. I guess you’ve heard of her—she was Helen Hamilton, the famous dancer.”
Allerdyke shook his head.
“Not my line at all,” he said. “It was a bit in James’s, though. Dancer, eh? And married a Prince?”
“Twenty-five years ago,” replied Fullaway. “Ancient history, that. But I know a good deal about her. She made a big fortune with her dancing, and she invested largely in pearls and diamonds—I know that. I also happen to know that she’d one son by her marriage, of whom she’s passionately fond. And I read this thing in this way: I guess the old Prince’s estates (he’s dead, a year or two ago) were heavily mortgaged, and she hit on the notion of clearing all off by selling her jewels, so that her son might start clear—no encumbrances on the property, you know.”
Allerdyke pursed his lips and rubbed his chin.
“What I don’t understand is that she confided a quarter of a million’s worth of goods of that sort to a man whom she couldn’t know so very well,” he observed. “I never heard James speak of her.”
“That may be.” replied Fullaway. “But he may have known her very well for all that. However, there are the facts. And,” he added, with emphasis, “there, Mr. Allerdyke, are those four words, sent from Christiania, ’Have got all goods!’ Now, we can be reasonably sure of what he meant. He’d got the Princess’s jewels. Very well! Where are they?”
Allerdyke got to his feet, and, thrusting his hands in his pockets, began to stride about the room. All this was not merely puzzling, but, in a way which he could not understand, distasteful to him. Somehow—he did not know why, nor at that moment try to think why—he resented the fact that any one knew more about his dead cousin than he did. And he began to wonder as he strode about the room how much this Mr. Franklin Fullaway knew.
“Did my cousin James ever mention this Princess to you?” he suddenly asked, stopping in his walk to and fro. “I mean—before he went over to Russia this last time?”
“He just mentioned that he knew her—mentioned it in casual conversation,” answered Fullaway. “She and I being fellow Americans, the subject interested me, of course. But—he only said that he had met her in Russia.”