“Ladies and gentlemen,” he said, “I crave ten thousand—a million—pardons for this so-unheard-of state of affairs! The—the truth is, Mademoiselle de Longarde is not yet here. What is more—I have to tell you the truth—Mademoiselle refuses to come—refuses to fulfil her honourable engagement. We are—have been for some time—on the telephone with her. Mademoiselle is at her hotel. She declares she has been robbed—her jewels have all been stolen from their case in her apartments. She is—how shall I say?—turning the hotel upside down! She refuses to budge one inch until her jewels are restored to her. How then?—I cannot restore her jewels. I say to her—my colleagues say to her—it is not your jewels we desire—it is your so beautiful, so incomparable voice. She reply—I cannot tell you what she reply! In effect—no jewels, no song! Ladies and gentlemen, once more!—your most kind, most considerate indulgence! I go there just now—I fly; swift, to the hotel, to entreat Mademoiselle on my knees to return with me! In the meantime—”
As Weiss retired from the platform, and the longhaired ’cellist came upon it, Fullaway sprang up, dragging Allerdyke after him. He led the way to a sidedoor, whispered something to an attendant, and was quickly ushered through another door to an ante-room behind the wings, where Weiss, livid with anger, was struggling into an opera-cloak. The concert-director gasped as he caught sight of the American.
“Ah, my dear Mr. Fullaway!” he exclaimed. “You here! You have heard?—you have been in front. You hear, then—she will not come to sing because her jewels are missing, eh? She—”
“What hotel is Mademoiselle de Longarde stopping at, Weiss?” asked Fullaway quietly.
“The North British and Caledonian—I go there just now!” answered Weiss. “I am ruined if she will not appear—ruined, disgraced! Jewels! Ah—!”
“Come on—we’re going with you,” said Fullaway. “Quick now!”
Allerdyke got some vivid impressions during the next few minutes, impressions various, startling. They began with a swift whirl through the lighted streets of the smoky old city, of a dash upstairs at a big hotel; they ended with a picture of a beautiful, highly enraged woman, who was freely speaking her mind to a dismayed hotel manager and a couple of men who were obviously members of the detective force.
THE JEWEL BOX
Mademoiselle Zelie de Longarde, utterly careless of the fact that her toilette was but half complete, that she wore no gown, and that the kimono which she had hastily assumed on discovering her loss had slipped away from her graceful figure to fall in folds about her feet, interrupted the torrent of her eloquence to stare at the three men whom a startled waiter ushered into her sitting-room. Her first glance fell on the concert-director, and she shook her fist at him.