* * * * *
On the morning of the second day following, Senor Rodriguez, the minister from Venezuela, reported to the Secret Service Bureau the disappearance of fifty thousand dollars in gold from a safe in his private office at the legation.
FIFTY THOUSAND DOLLARS
Mr. Campbell was talking.
“For several months past,” he said, “the International Investment Company, through its representative, Mr. Cressy, has been secretly negotiating with Senor Rodriguez for certain asphalt properties in Venezuela. Three days ago these negotiations were successfully concluded, and yesterday afternoon Mr. Cressy, in secret, paid to Senor Rodriguez, fifty thousand dollars in American gold, the first of four payments of similar sums. This gold was to have been shipped to Philadelphia by express to-day to catch a steamer for Venezuela.” Mr. Grimm nodded.
“The fact that this gold was in Senor Rodriguez’s possession could not have been known to more than half a dozen persons, as the negotiations throughout have been in strict secrecy,” and Mr. Campbell smiled benignly. “So much! Now, Senor Rodriguez has just telephoned asking that I send a man to the legation at once. The gold was kept there over night; or perhaps I should say that the senor intended to keep it there over night.” Mr. Campbell stared at Mr. Grimm for a moment, then: “Miss Thorne, you know, is a guest at the legation, that is why I am referring the matter to you.”
“I understand,” said Mr. Grimm.
And ten minutes later Mr. Grimm presented himself to Senor Rodriguez. The minister from Venezuela, bubbling with excitement, was pacing forth and back across his office, ruffling his gray-black hair with nervous, twining fingers. Mr. Grimm sat down.
“Senor,” he inquired placidly, “fifty thousand dollars in gold would weigh nearly two hundred pounds, wouldn’t it?”
Senor Rodriguez stared at him blankly.
“Si, Senor,” he agreed absently. And then, in English: “Yes, I should imagine so.”
“Well, was all of it stolen, or only a part of it?” Mr. Grimm went on.
The minister gazed into the listless eyes for a time, then, apparently bewildered, walked forth and back across the room again. Finally he sat down.
“All of it,” he admitted. “I can’t understand it. No one, not a soul in this house, except myself, knew it was here.”
“In addition to this weight of, say two hundred pounds, fifty thousand dollars would make considerable bulk,” mused Mr. Grimm. “Very well! Therefore it would appear that the person, or persons, who got it must have gone away from here heavily laden?”
Senor Rodriguez nodded.
“And now, Senor,” Mr. Grimm continued, “if you will kindly state the circumstances immediately preceding and following the theft?”