“The Baron?” he repeated, lowering his voice. “What Baron?”
It was evident that Burke knew nothing, at least of this new plot which Miss Lowe had indicated. Kennedy beckoned him over to the window furthest from the door to his own room.
“What have you discovered?” he asked, forestalling Burke in the questioning. “What has happened?”
“You haven’t heard, then?” replied Burke.
Kennedy nodded negatively.
“Fortescue, the American inventor of fortescite, the new explosive, died very strangely this morning.”
“Yes,” encouraged Kennedy, as Burke came to a full stop to observe the effect of the information.
“Most incomprehensible, too,” he pursued. “No cause, apparently. But it might have been overlooked, perhaps, except for one thing. It wasn’t known generally, but Fortescue had just perfected a successful electro-magnetic gun—powderless, smokeless, flashless, noiseless and of tremendous power. To-morrow he was to have signed the contract to sell it to England. This morning he is found dead and the final plans of the gun are gone!”
Kennedy and Burke were standing mutely looking at each other.
“Who is in the next room?” whispered Burke hoarsely, recollecting Kennedy’s caution of silence.
Kennedy did not reply immediately. He was evidently much excited by Burke’s news of the wonderful electro-magnetic gun.
“Burke,” he exclaimed suddenly, “let’s join forces. I think we are both on the trail of a world-wide conspiracy—a sort of murder syndicate to wipe out war!”
Burke’s only reply was a low whistle that involuntarily escaped him as he reached over and grasped Craig’s hand, which to him represented the sealing of the compact.
As for me, I could not restrain a mental shudder at the power that their first murder had evidently placed in the hands of the anarchists, if they indeed had the electro-magnetic gun which inventors had been seeking for generations. What might they not do with it—perhaps even use it themselves and turn the latest invention against society itself!
Hastily Craig gave a whispered account of our strange visit from Miss Lowe, while Burke listened, open-mouthed.
He had scarcely finished when he reached for the telephone and asked for long distance.
“Is this the German embassy in Washington?” asked Craig a few moments later when he got his number. “This is Craig Kennedy, in New York. The United States Secret Service will vouch for me— mention to them Mr. Burke of their New York office who is here with me now. I understand that Baron Kreiger is leaving for New York to meet some bankers this afternoon. He must not do so. He is in the gravest danger if he—What? He left last night at midnight and is already here?”
Kennedy turned to us blankly.
The door to his room opened suddenly.
There stood Miss Lowe, gazing wild-eyed at us. Evidently her supernervous condition had heightened the keenness of her senses. She had heard what we were saying. I tried to read her face. It was not fear that I saw there. It was rage; it was jealousy.