“I had the same idea with reference to the coroner, at any rate, Brookes,” he said. “So long as the verdict was returned in the form it was, I am not sure that it was not better so.”
He dismissed the man with a little nod and sat turning over the code books which still stood upon the table.
“You and I, at any rate, Maggie, know the truth,” he said, “and so long as we can get no help from the proper quarters, I think that we should do better to let the matter remain as it is. We don’t want to direct people’s attention to us. We want to lull suspicion so far as we can, to be free to watch the three.”
The telephone bell rang, and as Nigel moved his arm to take off the receiver, he knocked over one of the black, morocco-bound code books, A sheet of paper with a few words upon it came fluttering to the ground. Maggie picked it up, glanced at it carelessly at first and then with interest.
“Nigel,” she exclaimed, “you see whose handwriting this is? Could it be part of the decoded dispatch?”
The telephone enquiry had been unimportant. Nigel pushed the instrument away. They both looked eagerly at the page of manuscript paper. It was numbered “8” at the top, and the few words written upon it in Lord Dorminster’s writing were obviously the continuation of a paragraph:
The name of the middle one, then, of the three secret cities, into which at all costs some one must find his way, is Kroten, and the telephone number which is all the clue I have been able to get, up to the present, to the London end of the affair, is Mayfair 146.
“This is just where he got to in the decoding!” Nigel declared. “I wonder whether it’s any use looking for the rest.”
They searched through every page of the heavy code books in vain. Then they returned to their study of the single page. Nigel dragged down an atlas and studied it.
“Kroten,” he muttered. “Here it is,—a small place about six hundred miles from Petrograd, apparently the centre of a barren, swampy district, population thirty thousand, birth rate declining, industries nil. Cheerful sort of spot it seems!”
“I have more luck than you!” Maggie cried, her finger tracing out a line in the open telephone book. “Look!”
Nigel glanced over her shoulder and read the entry to which she was pointing:
“Immelan Oscar, 13 Clarges Street, W. Mayfair 146.”
Nigel played golf at Ranelagh, on the following Sunday morning, with Jere Chalmers, a young American in the Diplomatic Service, who had just arrived in London and brought a letter of introduction to him. They had a pleasant game and strolled off from the eighteenth green to the dressing rooms on the best of terms with each other.
“Say, Dorminster,” his young companion enjoined, “let’s get through this fixing-up business quickly. I’ve had a kind of feeling for a cocktail, these last four holes, which I can’t exactly put into words. Besides, I want to have a word or two with you before the others come down.”