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When Olga announced the name of her visitor, the Princess rose to leave the room. She explained that she did not think it was in keeping with the dignity of her position to meet every shady person who called, and added that her daughter was not behaving in a way worthy of her name and princely family. When she departed Olga looked inquiringly at Ware. He swiftly interpreted her look.
"I shall stop," he said promptly. "I am only too anxious to help you."
Olga came forward and took his hand. "And you forgive me?" she asked.
"There is nothing to forgive," he answered, shaking it heartily. "Let us seek for Anne together. I daresay Dane will be able to tell us where she is. I leave you to manage him."
The girl nodded and touched the bell. Shortly the maid showed in a slim young fellow of a somewhat effeminate type. He was clean-shaven and wonderfully pale, with large dark eyes and curly black hair, worn rather long. He was dressed in a grey suit and wore a red scarf tied loosely in a bow. There was something foreign in his looks and dress. At the first sight one would have taken him for an Italian, but when he spoke it was apparent that he was an Englishman.
"Princess!" he said effusively, when he entered. Then catching sight of Giles in the background, he stopped short with a scared look.
"This is a friend of mine, Mark," said Olga, coming forward. "He knows all that there is to be known."
"Oh! And you promised not to say a word," said Dane reproachfully.
She shook her head. "I promised to save you from being arrested, and I shall fulfil my promise. Why have you come here?"
Dane fumbled in his pocket. "Your letter," he said, handing it to her.
Olga took it, glanced at it, and finally passed it to Ware.
"I did not write that letter," she said quietly. "Steel the detective sent it, so as to bring you here. He wishes to resume the conversation you left unfinished at Bournemouth."
"It's a trap!" cried Dane violently, and swung round to the door. But there was no chance of escape in that direction. He opened it to find Steel standing without. The detective stepped into the room and locked the door.
"Now," he said, "we can have some conversation. Princess, I apologize for having used your name unauthorized, but it was the only way to bring this young man into my net."
"Into a net!" said Dane, letting fall his soft hat. "You intend to have me arrested!" His hand went round to the back of his waist. In a moment Steel had flung himself forward, and after a short struggle disarmed him. The knife that the detective had secured was an ugly-looking weapon.
"You are more Italian than the Italians," he said, slipping the knife into his pocket; "but you are not a gentleman to frighten the lady."
"I am not frightened," said Olga promptly; "but I am very tired. I shall retire and leave you two gentlemen to deal with Mark."
Dane sprang forward and caught her dress. He looked terrified. "Do not leave me," he entreated. "You know that I love you, and that for your sake I have betrayed a man who has done much for me. You promised to help me."
"I shall do so," she answered, returning to her seat. "I shall see that you are not arrested, and----"
"Pardon me, Princess, it may be necessary to----"
"Mr. Steel, this man shall not be arrested," she said, stamping her foot.
"If I am," cried Dane resolutely, "I shall say nothing. Only to save myself will I speak."
Ware addressed a few hurried words to the detective, who nodded reluctantly. It was Giles who spoke. "I promise that you shall not be put in gaol, Dane," he said, "but you must tell the truth."
"If I do so I am in danger of my life."
"Then it is not gratitude that keeps you silent?"
"Gratitude!" said Dane, flinging back his head, "what have I to be grateful for? Mr. Franklin----"
"You mean Denham," interposed Olga quickly.
"Denham!" echoed Steel, "that is the father of the governess."
"No," said Giles, "Anne's father is dead. This man Denham pretended to play the part, and she has only lately been undeceived. Also, Mr. Steel, you must know that there is no Walter Franklin. The man at the Priory is the scoundrel you know as Wilson, the head of the Scarlet Cross Society and the murderer of Miss Kent."
"Not that last," interposed Dane, while Steel dropped into a seat transfixed with astonishment. "Denham did not kill her. He does not know who did. He told me so."
"He would tell you anything to save himself," said Olga.
"No," replied Dane, "he tells me all his secrets. At one time I should have died before I revealed them, but Denham has treated me cruelly. I owe him no gratitude. For years I slaved for him. I did all that a man could do for his sake. What reward have I got? He has beaten me like a dog. He has left me to starve. He has delivered me up to those members of our society who hate me. Since he came in for this money----"
"Wrongfully," put in Giles.
"As you say, sir--wrongfully. But since he became George Franklin and a wealthy man, he told me plainly that he washed his hands of me. He gave me a small sum, and sent me to America, promising an annuity. It was not paid. I wrote--I threatened. He laughed at me. So I have come back from America to punish him." He turned to Olga and continued vehemently, "Do you think that I would have told you what I did, Princess, had I not hated the man? No. Not even for the love I bear you would I have done that. You sent me to Mr. Steel at Bournemouth. I knew that he was a detective, and went prepared to tell all about Denham's wickedness, even although I incriminated myself."
"But you did not do so," said Steel dryly; "you ran away."
"And why? Because you mentioned that you suspected Miss Denham of a crime. I held my tongue until I could see some chance of proving her innocence. Had I told you all I knew then you would have had her arrested, and let her know the shame of the man--her father."
"He is not her father," said Olga again.
"I know nothing about that," replied Dane, sitting down; "he always said that he was her father, and I had no reason to believe otherwise. But I am glad to hear that he is not. She is too good and pure to be the daughter of such a man. I have known her for years. She is an angel. She nursed me through an illness. I would do anything to prove my gratitude for her sake. I held my hand from harming Denham because I thought he was her father, and----"
"You need do so no longer," cried Ware, whose face was bright when he heard this praise of Anne; "she is the daughter of George Franklin, of Jamaica. Denham assumed the name to get the Powell money."
"Then," cried Dane, flinging wide his arms in a most dramatic manner, "all I know you shall know. I turn King's evidence."
"The best way to save your own skin," said Steel dryly; "you are an Irishman, are you not?"
Dane nodded. "Born in New York," said he.
"Humph!" murmured Steel, but so low that only Giles heard him, "all the better. You would betray your own mother if it suited you."
Meanwhile Olga was speaking to the man. "The first thing you have to confess," she said, "is about Miss Denham. Where is she?"
"With Mr. Morley."
Giles uttered an exclamation. "What has he got to do with her?"
"I don't know. He came up to town yesterday evening."
"About nine or ten?" asked Giles quickly. He remembered his feeling of being watched at the Liverpool Street Station.
"Yes," assented Dane, "he came up to see me. He said that he had a message for Miss Denham from her father. Of course I thought then that Denham was really her father. I asked Morley why he did not deliver the message himself, for he knew that Miss Denham had come to town with the Princess Karacsay."
"How the deuce did he know that?" wondered Giles.
"Well, you see, sir, Mr. Morley was a detective at one time, and he always finds out what he desires."
"True enough," put in Steel, "Joe Bart is very clever."
"He appears to have been extremely so in this case," said Giles dryly.
"Morley told me," continued Mark, "that Miss Denham knew he suspected her of the murder, and she would not let him see her. If she knew he had come to look her up that she would run away thinking he came to have her arrested. He asked me to tell her to come to a rendezvous near the Abbey without mentioning his name. I thought this was reasonable enough, and wrote a letter."
"And I went with Anne," said Olga. "Where did you go?"
"When you left us I told her that Morley had a message from her father. She said nothing to me denying the relationship, but she was afraid of Morley. I told her that he had promised not to do her any harm. She was still doubtful. Then Morley appeared. He had been close at hand, and he explained that Denham was very ill. He wished to see Miss Denham and make reparation for his wickedness. There was no time to be lost, Morley said, and he asked her to come at once. She hesitated for a time, and then went with Morley. She told me to wait till the Princess Olga came back and tell her this."
"Why did you not?"
"Because Morley whispered that I was not to do so. I went away in another direction."
"Then why do you tell now?" asked Ware bluntly.
"I wish to be revenged on Denham," said Dane fiercely. "He treated me like a dog, and he shall be bitten by me. Curse him!"
Olga walked to the door. "I shall go now," she said, seeing that Dane was becoming excited and fearing a scene. "You can tell Mr. Steel and Mr. Ware everything, Mark. When Denham is caught and Anne is free, you shall come to Vienna with me. My father shall take you into his service," and with this she held out her hand to him in a regal manner. Dane kissed it as though it had been the hand of a queen, and when she was out of the room, turned to the two men with a shining face.
"I am ready to tell you everything," he said.
"And betray those who have done you a kindness," muttered Steel. "You would not be an Irish-American if you didn't. I know the type."
Quite unaware of this uncomplimentary speech, Dane glanced into a near mirror and ran his slim hand through his hair. He cast such a complacent look at his reflection that Giles could not forbear a smile. The man was a compound of treachery, courage, and vanity. He had some virtues and not a few vices, and was one of those irresponsible creatures who develop into Anarchists. But that the Scarlet Cross Society had attracted his talents in the direction of a kind of coast piracy, he would without doubt have been employed in blowing up kings or public buildings. Giles thought with a grim smile that if Olga took this creature to Austria, Prince Karacsay would have some work to keep him in order. Dane was not the man to settle to a dull, respectable existence or to earn his bread without a little excitement. A dangerous man, and the more dangerous from his enormous vanity and utter want of moral principle.
Having made Steel promise not to arrest him, nor to make any use of his revelations to endanger his own liberty, Dane cheerfully proceeded to betray those he had sworn secrecy to. Wicked as was the gang, and evil as was the purpose of its formation, Giles could not help feeling a contempt for the traitor. There should be honor amongst thieves, thought Ware. But Dane did not believe in the proverb, and explained himself quite complacently.
"I met Denham--as he usually called himself many years ago in Italy--at Milan," said Dane; "he had a house there. His daughter--let us call Miss Anne his daughter, although I am glad to hear she is not--lived with him. She was then about fifteen and was at school at a convent. She and I got on very well. I adored her for her beauty and kindness of heart. I was starving for want of money, as my remittances had not arrived from America. Denham took me in. I made myself useful, so there was no charity about the matter."
"Still, he took you in," suggested Giles, "that was kind."
"A kindness to himself," retorted Dane. "I tell you, sir, Denham wanted what he called a secretary and what I called a tool. He found such a one in me. I don't deny that I did all his dirty work, but I had some feeling of gratitude because he rescued me from starvation."
"You contradict yourself, Dane."
"No, sir, I do not," replied the man, with true Irish obstinacy, "but I'm not here to argue about my conduct but to tell you facts."
"Facts we wish to know," said Steel, taking out his note-book.
"And facts I tell," cried Dane vehemently, then resumed in a calmer tone. "Miss Anne was all day at school. Denham never let her know what a devil he was. He was always kind to her. She thought him a good man. Then thinking she might get to know too much, he sent her to a convent for education and removed to Florence. There he called himself George Franklin. He told me that he expected to get money by taking that name."
"Then he admitted that he was not George Franklin," said Giles.
"He never admitted anything. At one time he would say that his real name was George Franklin, at another declare he was really Alfred Denham. But he had so many names in the course of his career," added Dane, with a shrug, "that one more or less did not matter. Besides, he was such a liar that I never believed anything he said."
"Not even about the Powell money?"
"Oh, yes, I believed that. He was always swearing at some girl who stood between him and the money. He mentioned her name once. I was with him in England at the time, and set to work to find out. I learned all about Miss Kent and her engagement to you, Mr. Ware."
"And you know all about the Powell money?"
"Yes. I got the truth out of Denham at last, but he never told Miss Anne; nor did he ever mention Miss Kent's name in her presence; nor did he ever say to me that Miss Anne was not his child. I never thought for a moment she was Franklin's daughter. And for the matter of that," added Dane carelessly, "I did not know if he was really Denham or Franklin himself."
"But Miss Anne knew nothing of all this?" asked Giles.
"Absolutely nothing. After she went to the Milan convent, Denham would not let her come back to him again. He was afraid lest she should learn what he was and wished to preserve her good opinion. She went out as a governess, and only rarely came home."
"And how did Denham earn his living?"
"Oh, he invented the Scarlet Cross Society. He bought a yacht, and steamed to England from Genoa. For years we put in at different ports, robbed houses and stowed the goods on board. Then we returned to Italy and sold them."
"A clever dodge," murmured Steel. "So that is why the goods were never traced."
"That is why," said Dane, with great coolness. "There was a Jew who took a lot of what we brought. He sold them in the East. But it is too long a story to tell at present. Denham sometimes went to England and sometimes stopped in Florence. When he was away I stayed in his house as George Franklin."
"I see. He wished to prove an alibi."
"That's it," said Dane. "He intended to get that money sometime, and wished that when inquiries were made about George Franklin that it could be proved he was in Florence all the time."
"And then when Powell did die?"
"Denham knew as soon as possible. He had a spy in Australia, and had a cablegram sent to him. Then he arranged a pretended death to get rid of Miss Anne. He did not want her to come into his new life. He treated her well, however, for he left her money, and intended to give her an income when he got the money. Another man was buried in place of Denham and he went to England, where he reappeared as George Franklin to claim the money."
"As Wilson, you mean, to kill the girl who stood between him and the fortune," said Steel, raising his eyes.
Dane shook his head. "I know nothing of that," he said. "From the day Denham left Florence my association with him has severed. I saw Miss Anne, told her about the death of her father, and then went to America. Denham did not pay me my annuity, and I came back to be revenged. I saw him, but he denies having killed the girl. He says he does not know who committed the murder. I have been earning my bread as I best can, waiting for revenge."
"But you had only to threaten to make all this public to make Denham give you what you wished."
"No." Dane looked uneasy. "The fact is he and some one else have a hold over me. I need not tell you what it is, but I had to be silent."
"But now that you speak he has still the hold."
"Yes. But I intend to ruin myself in order to ruin him," cried Dane fiercely, and rose to his feet. "Well, gentlemen, that is all I can tell you at present. I shall go."
To Giles' surprise, Steel made no objection. "You'll come and see me again?" he said, opening the door for Dane.
"Assuredly," replied that young gentleman, and departed.
Giles looked amazed at this permission to depart being given by the detective. "I should have thought it would be to your interest to keep Dane here," he said. "He has not told us everything yet."
"No," replied Steel, closing his book with a snap, "there is one very interesting detail he has not told us. But the next time we meet I'll get it out of him. Here," he touched the book, "there is enough to go on with. I'll go down to the Priory and see the sick Mr. Denham."
"I'll come also and see Anne," said Giles eagerly. "But Dane?"
"He's all right. I have a couple of men waiting outside. He will be followed everywhere. I'll be able to lay hands on him whenever I like. Also I wish to see where he goes. He knows the various hiding-places of this gang, and I want him to be tracked to one of them."
"H'm! Don't you believe his story?"
"Not altogether. He evidently hates Denham with all the virulent hatred of a malicious character. He's a devil, that man Dane. I should not like to incur his enmity. However, we'll make use of him, and then the Princess can take him to Vienna to make trouble there, as he assuredly will."
"What is the especial detail you want to learn?"
"I wish him to explain how he killed Daisy Kent."
"He! Dane! Do you mean to say----?"
"I mean to say that Dane is the murderer," said Steel triumphantly. "That is the reason Denham and this other person (whoever he may be) have a hold over him. If he ruins Denham, he does so at the cost of being hanged."
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