Senor Rodriguez, the minister from Venezuela, found the gold in his safe on the following morning, with a brief note from Mr. Grimm, in which there was no explanation of how or where it had been found.... And two hours later Monsieur Boissegur, ambassador from France to the United States, disappeared from the embassy, vanished!
THE VANISHING DIPLOMATIST
It was three days after the ambassador’s disappearance that Monsieur Rigolot, secretary of the French embassy and temporary charge-d’affaires, reported the matter to Chief Campbell in the Secret Service Bureau, adding thereto a detailed statement of several singular incidents following close upon it. He told it in order, concisely and to the point, while Grimm and his chief listened.
“Monsieur Boissegur, the ambassador, you understand, is a man whose habits are remarkably regular,” he began. “He has made it a rule to be at his desk every morning at ten o’clock, and between that time and one o’clock he dictates his correspondence, and clears up whatever routine work there is before him. I have known him for many years, and have been secretary of the embassy under him in Germany and Japan and this country. I have never known him to vary this general order of work unless because of illness, or necessary absence.
“Well, Monsieur, last Tuesday—this is Friday—the ambassador was at his desk as usual. He dictated a dozen or more letters, and had begun another—a private letter to his sister in Paris. He was well along in this letter when, without any apparent reason, he rose from his desk and left the room, closing the door behind him. His stenographer’s impression was that some detail of business had occurred to him, and he had gone into the general office farther down the hall to attend to it. I may say, Monsieur, that this impression seemed strengthened by the fact that he left a fresh cigarette burning in his ash tray, and his pen was behind his ear. It was all as if he had merely stepped out, intending to return immediately—the sort of thing, Monsieur, that any man might have done.
“It so happened that when he went out he left a sentence of his letter incomplete. I tell you this to show that the impulse to go must have been a sudden one, yet there was nothing in his manner, so his stenographer says, to indicate excitement, or any other than his usual frame of mind. It was about five minutes of twelve o’clock—high noon—when he went out. When he didn’t return immediately the stenographer began transcribing the letters. At one o’clock Monsieur Boissegur still had not returned and his stenographer went to luncheon.”
As he talked some inbred excitement seemed to be growing upon him, due, perhaps, to his recital of the facts, and he paused at last to regain control of himself. Incidentally he wondered if Mr. Grimm was taking the slightest interest in what he was saying. Certainly there was nothing in his impassive face to indicate it.