“My dear Jules, you act as though you had seen a ghost. Who the devil is Armitage?”
Chauvenet glanced about the room cautiously, then bent forward and whispered very low, close to Durand’s ear:
“Suppose he were the son of the crazy Karl! Suppose he were Frederick Augustus!”
“Bah! It is impossible! What is your man Armitage like?” asked Durand irritably.
“He is the right age. He is a big fellow and has quite an air. He seems to be without occupation.”
“Clearly so,” remarked Durand ironically. “But he has evidently been watching us. Quite possibly the lamented Stroebel employed him. He may have seen Stroebel here—”
Chauvenet again struck the table smartly.
“Of course he would see Stroebel! Stroebel was the Archduke’s friend; Stroebel and this fellow between them—”
“Stroebel is dead. The Archduke is dead; there can be no manner of doubt of that,” said Durand; but doubt was in his tone and in his eyes.
“Nothing is certain; it would be like Karl to turn up again with a son to back his claims. They may both be living. This Armitage is not the ordinary pig of a secret agent. We must find him.”
“And quickly. There must be—”
“—another death added to our little list before we are quite masters of the situation in Vienna.”
They gave Zmai orders to remain on guard at the house and went hurriedly out together.
TOWARD THE WESTERN STARS
Her blue eyes sought the west afar,
For lovers love the western star.
—Lay of the Last Minstrel.
Geneva is a good point from which to plan flight to any part of the world, for there at the top of Europe the whole continental railway system is easily within your grasp, and you may make your choice of sailing ports. It is, to be sure, rather out of your way to seek a ship at Liverpool unless you expect to gain some particular advantage in doing so. Mr. John Armitage hurried thither in the most breathless haste to catch the King Edward, whereas he might have taken the Touraine at Cherbourg and saved himself a mad scamper; but his satisfaction in finding himself aboard the King Edward was supreme. He was and is, it may be said, a man who salutes the passing days right amiably, no matter how somber their colors.
Shirley Claiborne and Captain Richard Claiborne, her brother, were on deck watching the shipping in the Mersey as the big steamer swung into the channel.
“I hope,” observed Dick, “that we have shaken off all your transatlantic suitors. That little Chauvenet died easier than I had expected. He never turned up after we left Florence, but I’m not wholly sure that we shan’t find him at the dock in New York. And that mysterious Armitage, who spent so much railway fare following us about, and who almost bought you a watch in Geneva, really disappoints me. His persistence had actually compelled my admiration. For a glass-blower he was fairly decent, though, and better than a lot of these little toy men with imitation titles.”