“Mille tonnerres!” then exclaimed M. Max; and, holding a finger of his glove between his teeth, he tugged so sharply that a long rent appeared in the suede.
His eyes were on fire; the whole man quivered with electric force.
In silence that group watched the celebrated Frenchman; instinctively they looked to him for aid. It is at such times that personality proclaims itself. Here was the last court of appeal, to which came Dr. Cumberly and Inspector Dunbar alike; whose pronouncement they awaited, not questioning that it would be final.
“To-morrow night,” began Max, speaking in a very low voice, “we raid the headquarters of Ho-Pin. This disappearance of your daughter, Dr. Cumberly, is frightful; it could not have been foreseen or it should have been prevented. But the least mistake now, and”—he looked at Dr. Cumberly as if apologizing for his barbed words—“she may never return!”
“My God!” groaned the physician, and momentarily dropped his face into his hands.
But almost immediately he recovered himself and with his mouth drawn into a grim straight line, looked again at M. Max, who continued:
“I do not think that this abduction was planned by the group; I think it was an accident and that they were forced, in self-protection, to detain your daughter, who unwisely—morbleu! how unwisely!—forced herself into their secrets. To arrest Gianapolis (even if that were possible) would be to close their doors to us permanently; and as we do not even know the situation of those doors, that would be to ruin everything. Whether Miss Cumberly is confined in the establishment of Ho-Pin or somewhere else, I cannot say; whether she is a captive of Gianapolis or of Mr. King, I do not know. But I know that the usual conduct of the establishment is not being interrupted at present; for only half-an-hour ago I telephoned to Mr. Gianapolis!”
“At Globe Road?” snapped Dunbar, with a flash of the tawny eyes.
“At Globe Road—yes (oh! they would not detain her there!). Mr. Gianapolis was present to speak to me. He met me very agreeably in the matter of occupying my old room in the delightful Chinese hotel of Mr. Ho-Pin. Therefore”—he swept his left hand around forensically, as if to include the whole of the company—“to-morrow night at eleven o’clock I shall be meeting Mr. Gianapolis at Piccadilly Circus, and later we shall join the limousine and be driven to the establishment of Ho-Pin.” He turned to Inspector Dunbar. “Your arrangements for watching all the approaches to the suspected area are no doubt complete?”
“Not a stray cat,” said Dunbar with emphasis, “can approach Limehouse Causeway or Pennyfields, or any of the environs of the place, to-morrow night after ten o’clock, without the fact being reported to me! You will know at the moment that you step from the limousine that a cyclist scout, carefully concealed, is close at your heels with a whole troup to follow; and if, as you suspect, the den adjoins the river bank, a police cutter will be lying at the nearest available point.”