He was unique among Indian princes. An Oxford graduate, he persistently and consistently clung to the elaborate costumes of his native state. And when he condescended to visit any one, it was invariably stipulated that he should be permitted to bring along his habits, his costumes and his retinue. In his suite or apartments he was the barbarian; in the drawing-room, in the ballroom, in the dining-room (where he ate nothing), he was the suave, the courteous, the educated Oriental. He drank no wines, made his own cigarettes, and never offered his hand to any one, not even to the handsome women who admired his beautiful skin and his magnificent ropes of pearls.
Some one had entered the bedroom, overpowered the guard, and looted the bag containing the emeralds. The prince, the lightest of sleepers, had slept through it all. He had awakened with a violent headache, as had four of his servants. The big Rajput who had stood watch was in the hospital, still unconscious.
All the way from San Francisco the police had been waiting for such a catastrophe. The newspapers had taken up and published broadcast the story of the prince’s pastime. Naturally enough, there was not a crook in all America who was not waiting for a possible chance. Ten emeralds, weighing from six to ten carats each; a fortune, even if broken up.
Haggerty laid aside the newspaper and gravely finished his ham and eggs.
“I’ll take a peek int’ this, Milly,” he said to his wife. “We’ve been waiting for this t’ happen. A million dollars in jools in a chest y’ could open with a can-opener. Queer ginks, these Hindus. We see lots o’ fakers, but this one is the real article. Mebbe a reward. All right; little ol’ Haggerty can use th’ money. I may not be home t’ supper.”
“Anything more about Mr. Crawford’s valet?”
Haggerty scowled. “Not a line. I’ve been living in gambling joints, but no sign of him. He gambled in th’ ol’ days; some time ’r other he’ll wander in somewhere an’ try t’ copper th’ king. No sign of him round Crawford’s ol’ place. But I’ll get him; it’s a hunch. By-by!”
Later, the detective was conducted into the Maharajah’s reception-room. The prince, in his soft drawling English (far more erudite and polished than Haggerty’s, if not so direct), explained the situation, omitting no detail. He would give two thousand five hundred for the recovery of the stones.
“At what are they valued?”
“By your customs appraisers, forty thousand. To me they are priceless.”
“Six t’ ten carats? Why, they’re worth more than that.”
The prince smiled. “That was for the public.”
“I’ll take a look int’ your bedroom,” said Haggerty, rising.
“Oh, no; that is not at all necessary,” protested the prince.
“How d’ you suppose I’m going t’ find out who done it, or how it was done, then?” demanded Haggerty, bewildered.