“You’re wrong, Saunders.” Mark’s voice had a decided note in it. “My disappearance might complicate the international part of the situation. Baron Griffin was a member of the House of Lords, and quite a personage. And I am the only brother of that late personage. He had no children. I can fight better here—as Baron Griffin.”
“Great Scott!” cried Saunders. “Come to think of it, you are Baron Griffin now!”
“Yes, I am, and only half sorry for it, much as I regret my brother’s death. What are you going to do, Saunders?”
The detective looked embarrassed.
“I didn’t intend to tell you, but I guess I will. I’m going to throw up my job. I’m in this thing and I’m going to stay and see it out.”
“Good old chap!” answered Mark. “I thought you would. But can you afford it?”
“Frankly, I can’t; but I’m going to do it just the same.”
“Saunders,” said Mark, “I think I need the services of a sort of detective.”
“You mean a protective bodyguard.”
“Put it as you like—any way that will let me pay you for your time. You say you are going to stay on the case. I want to have you on it. You may not need me badly, but I’m sure that I need you.”
“Then you want me to apply for the job?”
“I’d employ you if you would take it, old chap.”
“Then I apply. I never asked for a job before, but I want this one. Shake!”
The men shook hands and started to go upstairs. When they were out of hearing, the clerk called up a number on the telephone.
HIS EXCELLENCY SUGGESTS
In an upstairs room of a Washington Ministry three men sat in conference. One, a stout, bearded man, was seated behind a flat-top desk on which he constantly thrummed with nervous fingers; the others sat facing him. The man at the desk was the Minister of a Kingdom, and looked it. His eyes were half closed, as if in languid indifference, effectually veiling their keenness. The expression of his mouth was lost in the dark moustache, and in the beard combed from the center. The visible part of his face would have made a gambler’s fortune; and, save for its warm color, it might have been carved out of ice. Without ever a hint of harshness or loudness, his voice was one to command attention; though it came out soft and velvety, it was with the half assurance that it could ring like steel if the occasion arose. The occasion never arose. The hands, whose fingers thrummed on the glass-topped desk, were soft, warm-looking, and always moist, with a dampness that on contact made you feel vaguely that you had touched oil—and you had.