Annenberg, seeing we were now four to one, concluded that discretion was the better part of valor and ceased to struggle, though now and then I could see he glanced at Kennedy out of the corner of his eye. To every question he maintained a stolid silence.
A few minutes later, with the arch anarchist safely pinioned between us, we were speeding back toward New York, laying plans for Burke to dispatch warnings abroad to those whose names appeared on the fatal list, and at the same time to round up as many of the conspirators as possible in America.
As for Kennedy, his main interest now lay in Baron Kreiger and Paula. While she had been driven frantic by the outcome of the terrible pact into which she had been drawn, some one, undoubtedly, had been trying to sell Baron Kreiger the gun that had been stolen from the American inventor. Once they had his money and he had received the plans of the gun, a fatal cigarette would be smoked. Could we prevent it?
On we tore back to the city, across the bridge and down through the canyons of East Side streets.
At last we pulled up before the tenement at five hundred and one. As we did so, one of Burke’s men jumped out of the doorway.
“Are we in time?” shouted Burke.
“It’s an awful mix-up,” returned the man. “I can’t make anything out of it, so I ordered ’em all held here till you came.”
We pushed past without a word of criticism of his wonderful acumen.
On the top floor we came upon a young man, bending over the form of a girl who had fainted. On the floor of the middle of the room was a mass of charred papers which had evidently burned a hole in the carpet before they had been stamped out. Near by was an unlighted cigarette, crushed flat on the floor.
“How is she?” asked Kennedy anxiously of the young man, as he dropped down on the other side of the girl.
It was Paula. She had fainted, but was just now coming out of the borderland of unconsciousness.
“Was I in time? Had he smoked it?” she moaned weakly, as there swam before her eyes, evidently, a hazy vision of our faces.
Kennedy turned to the young man.
“Baron Kreiger, I presume?” he inquired.
The young man nodded.
“Burke of the Secret Service,” introduced Craig, indicating our friend. “My name is Kennedy. Tell what happened.”
“I had just concluded a transaction,” returned Kreiger in good but carefully guarded English. “Suddenly the door burst open. She seized these papers and dashed a cigarette out of my hands. The next instant she had touched a match to them and had fallen in a faint almost in the blaze. Strangest experience I ever had in my life. Then all these other fellows came bursting in—said they were Secret Service men, too.”
Kennedy had no time to reply, for a cry from Annenberg directed our attention to the next room where on a couch lay a figure all huddled up.