Again the babel broke out.
“Do we understand that you want to see the compact?” one of the cowled men asked suddenly of Mr. Grimm as he turned.
“No, I don’t want to see it. I’d prefer not to see it.”
With hatred blazing in his eyes the prince made his way toward the lamp, holding a parchment toward the blaze.
“There’s nothing else to be done,” he exclaimed savagely.
“Just a moment, please,” Mr. Grimm interposed quickly. “Miss Thorne, is that the compact?”
She glanced at it, nodded her head, and then the flame caught the fringed edge of paper. It crackled, flashed, flamed, and at last, a thing of ashes, was scattered on the floor. Mr. Grimm rose.
“That is all, gentlemen,” he announced courteously. “You are free to go. You, your Highness, and Miss Thorne, will accompany me.”
He held open the door and there was almost a scramble to get out. The prince and Miss Thorne waited until the last.
“And, Miss Thorne, if you will give us a lift in your car?” Mr. Grimm suggested. “It is now four minutes of three.”
The automobile came in answer to a signal and the three in silence entered it. The car trembled and had just begun to move when Mr. Grimm remembered something, and leaped out.
“Wait for me!” he called. “There’s a man locked in the coal-bin!”
He disappeared into the house, and Miss Thorne, with a gasp of horror sank back in her seat with face like chalk. The prince glanced uneasily at his watch, then spoke curtly to the chauffeur.
“Run the car up out of danger; there’ll be an explosion there in a moment.”
They had gone perhaps a hundred feet when the building they had just left seemed to be lifted bodily from the ground by a great spurt of flame which tore through its center, then collapsed like a thing of cards. The prince, unmoved, glanced around at Miss Thorne; she lay in a dead faint beside him.
“Go ahead,” he commanded. “Baltimore.”
THE PERSONAL EQUATION
Mr. Campbell ceased talking and the deep earnestness that had settled on his face passed, leaving instead the blank, inscrutable mask of benevolence behind which his clock-like genius was habitually hidden. The choleric blue eyes of the president of the United States shifted inquiringly to the thoughtful countenance of the secretary of state at his right, thence along the table around which the official family was gathered. It was a special meeting of the cabinet called at the suggestion of Chief Campbell, and for more than an hour he had done the talking. There had been no interruption.
“So much!” he concluded, at last. “If there is any point I have not made clear Mr. Grimm is here to explain it in person.”
Mr. Grimm rose at the mention of his name and stood with his hands clasped behind his back. His eyes met those of the chief executive listlessly.