The impish grin of the latent savage broke through the habitual austerity of Victor’s countenance.
“There is no more,” he said, “but this: Sleep now, and do not waken before noon to-morrow—sleep!”
With a quavering sigh, the girl reclosed her eyes and instantly relapsed into the sleep of trance which was insensibly in the course of the night to merge into natural slumber.
Victor ironed out his grimace, and signed to Shaik Tsin.
“Bear her back to her room. Instruct Chou Nu to put her to bed and not to wake her up before noon.”
“Hearing is obedience.”
The Chinaman bent over, gathered the inert body into his arms, and without perceptible effort stood erect. But in the act of turning away he paused and, continuing to hold the girl as easily as if she weighed no more than a child, interrogated the man he served.
“You believe she will do all you have ordered?”
“I know she will.”
“Barring accidents, without flaw from beginning to end.”
“And in event of accidents—discovery—?”
“So much the better.”
“That would please you, to have her caught?”
Shaik Tsin nodded in grave yet humorous comprehension. “Now I begin to understand. If she is caught, that gives you a power over her?”
“And if she is not, when the robbery becomes known, your power over her will be still more strong?”
“And over yet another stronger still.”
“The Lone Wolf?”
Victor inclined his head. “To what lengths will he not go to cover up his daughter’s shame, if it threatens to become public that she is a thief? I do nothing without purpose, Shaik Tsin.”
“That is to say, you have to-night taken out insurance against punishment if this other business fails.”
“If it fail, others may suffer, but if necessary the Lone Wolf himself will arrange my escape from England.”
“To serve so wise a man is an honour my unworthiness can never hope to merit.”
“As to that, Shaik Tsin,” Victor said without a smile, “our minds are one. Go now. Good-night.”
THE RAISED CHEQUE
While the Princess Sofia, Sybil Waring, and Prince Victor motored down from London in the lilac dusk of that dim September day, and the maid Chou Nu accompanied them, riding in front beside a newly engaged Chinese chauffeur, the man Nogam made the journey to Frampton Court by train, and alone.
Alone, at least, in the finer shading of that adjective; aside from the usual assortment of self-contained fellow-travellers in the third-class carriage, he had no company other than his thoughts; a gray and meagre crew, if that pathetic face of middle-age furnished trustworthy reflection of his mind.... So absolute was the submergence of that ardent adventurer who, overnight, had lain awake for hours, a dictograph receiver glued to his ear, eavesdropping upon the traffic of those malevolent intelligences assembled in Prince Victor’s study, and alternately chuckling and cursing beneath his breath, aflame with indignation and chilled by inklings of atrocities unspeakable abrew!