As completely lost as if the earth had swallowed them were the diamond robbers—for all the world accepted them as the perpetrators—and their fair prize. No one saw the carriage after it turned off the Avenue Louise on the night of the abduction; no one saw the party leave the lonely house in the country. A placard found on the steps of a prominent citizen’s home at an early hour in the morning told the frenzied searchers where to look for the mother and the uncle of the missing girl.
A reward of 100,000 francs for the arrest of the abductors or the return of Miss Garrison was offered at once by the stony-faced woman in the Avenue Louise, and detectives flew about like bees. Every city in the land was warned to be on the lookout, every village was watched, every train and station was guarded. Nine in every ten detectives maintained that she was still in Brussels, and house after house, mansion after mansion was searched.
Three days after the abduction word came from London that four men and a young woman, apparently insane, all roughly attired, had come to that city from Ostend, and had disappeared before the officials were fully cognizant of their arrival. The woman, according to the statements of men who saw her on the train, was beautiful and pale as with the sickness that promised death.
THE HOME OF THE BRIGANDS
It was past midnight, after a wild ride through the storm, when an old gentleman and his wife, with their sick daughter, boarded a fast eastbound train at Namur. Had the officers of the law known of the abduction at that hour it would have been an easy matter to discover that the loose-flowing gown which enveloped the almost unconscious, partially veiled daughter, hid a garment of silk so fine that the whole world had read columns concerning its beauty. The gray beard of the rather distinguished old man could have been removed: at a single grasp, while the wife, also veiled, wore the clothing of a man underneath the skirts. The father and mother were all attention to their unfortunate child, who looked into their faces with wide, hopeless eyes and uttered no word of complaint, no sound of pain.
At a small station some miles from the border line of the grand duchy of Luxemburg, the party left the coach and were met by a carriage in which they whirled away in the darkness that comes just before dawn. The horses flew swiftly toward the line that separates Belgium from the grand duchy, and the sun was barely above the bank of trees on the highlands in the east when the carriage of the impetuous travelers drew up in front of a picturesque roadside inn just across the boundary. The sweat-flecked horses were quickly stabled and the occupants of the vehicle were comfortably and safely quartered in a darkened room overlooking the highway.