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The Ambassador, when he left Mr. Sabin’s house, stepped into a hired hansom and drove off towards Arlington Street. A young man who had watched him come out, from the other side of the way, walked swiftly to the corner of the street and stepped into a private brougham which was waiting there.
“To the Embassy,” he said. “Drive fast!”
The carriage set him down in a few minutes at the house to which Densham and Harcutt had followed Mr. Sabin on the night of their first meeting with him. He walked swiftly into the hall.
“Is his Excellency within?” he asked a tall servant in plain dress who came forward to meet him.
“Yes, Monsieur Felix,” the man answered; “he is dining very late to-night—in fact, he has not yet risen from the table.”
“Who is with him?” Felix asked.
“It is a very small party. Madame la Princesse has just arrived from Paris, and his Excellency has been waiting for her.”
He mentioned a few more names; there was no one of importance. Felix walked into the hall-porter’s office and scribbled a few words on half a sheet of paper, which he placed in an envelope and carefully sealed.
“Let his Excellency have this privately and at once,” he said to the man; “I will go into the waiting room.”
The man withdrew with the note, and Felix crossed the hall and entered a small room nearly opposite. It was luxuriously furnished with easy chairs and divans; there were cigars, and cigarettes, and decanters upon a round table. Felix took note of none of these things, nor did he sit down. He stood with his hands behind him, looking steadily into the fire. His cheeks were almost livid, save for a single spot of burning colour high up on his cheek-bone. His fingers twitched nervously, his eyes were dry and restlessly bright. He was evidently in a state of great excitement. In less than two minutes the door opened, and a tall, distinguished-looking man, grey headed, but with a moustache still almost black, came softly into the room. His breast glittered with orders, and he was in full Court dress. He nodded kindly to the young man, who greeted him with respect.
“Is it anything important, Felix?” he asked; “you are looking tired.”
“Yes, your Excellency, it is important,” Felix answered; “it concerns the man Sabin.”
The Ambassador nodded.
“Well,” he said, “what of him? You have not been seeking to settle accounts with him, I trust, after our conversation, and your promise?”
Felix shook his head.
“No,” he said. “I gave my word and I shall keep it! Perhaps you may some day regret that you interfered between us.”
“I think not,” the Prince replied. “Your services are valuable to me, my dear Felix; and in this country, more than any other, deeds of violence are treated with scant ceremony, and affairs of honour are not understood. No, I saved you from yourself for myself. It was an excellent thing for both of us.”
“I trust,” Felix repeated, “that your Excellency may always think so. But to be brief. The report from Cartienne is to hand.”
The Ambassador nodded and listened expectantly.
“He confirms fully,” Felix continued, “the value of the documents which are in question. How he obtained access to them he does not say, but his report is absolute. He considers that they justify fully the man Sabin’s version of them.”
The Prince smiled.
“My own judgment is verified,” he said. “I believed in the man from the first. It is good. By the bye, have you seen anything of Mr. Sabin to-day?”
“I have come straight,” Felix said, “from watching his house.”
“The Baron von Knigenstein has been there alone, incognito, for more than an hour. I watched him go in—and watched him out.”
The Prince’s genial smile vanished. His face grew suddenly as dark as thunder. The Muscovite crept out unawares. There was a fierce light in his eyes, and his face was like the face of a wolf; yet his voice when he spoke was low.
“So ho!” he said softly. “Mr. Sabin is doing a little flirting, is he? Ah!”
“I believe,” the young man answered slowly, “that he has advanced still further than that. The Baron was there for an hour. He came out walking like a young man. He was in a state of great excitement.”
The Prince sat down and stroked the side of his face thoughtfully.
“The great elephant!” he muttered. “Fancy such a creature calling himself a diplomatist! It is well, Felix,” he added, “that I had finished my dinner, otherwise you would certainly have spoilt it. If they have met like this, there is no end to the possibilities of it. I must see Sabin immediately. It ought to be easy to make him understand that I am not to be trifled with. Find out where he is to-night, Felix; I must follow him.”
Felix took up his hat.
“I will be back,” he said, “in half an hour.”
The Prince returned to his guests, and Felix drove off. When he returned his chief was waiting for him alone.
“Mr. Sabin,” Felix announced, “left town half an hour ago.”
“For abroad!” the Prince exclaimed, with flashing eyes. “He has gone to Germany!”
Felix shook his head.
“On the contrary,” he said; “he has gone down into Norfolk to play golf.”
“Into Norfolk to play golf!” the Prince repeated in a tone of scornful wonder. “Did you believe a story like that, Felix? Rubbish!”
Felix smiled slightly.
“It is quite true,” he said. “Labanoff makes no mistakes, and he saw him come out of his house, take his ticket at King’s Cross, and actually leave the station.”
“Are you sure that it is not a blind?” the Prince asked incredulously.
Felix shook his head.
“It is quite true, your Excellency,” he said. “If you knew the man as well as I do, you would not be surprised. He is indeed a very extraordinary person—he does these sort of things. Besides, he wants to keep out of the way.”
The Prince’s face darkened.
“He will find my way a little hard to get out of,” he said fiercely. “Go and get some dinner, Felix, and then try and find out whether Knigenstein has any notion of leaving England. He will not trust a matter like this to correspondence. Stay—I know how to manage it. I will write and ask him to dine here next week. You shall take the invitation.”
“He will be at Arlington Street,” Felix remarked.
“Well, you can take it on to him there,” the Prince directed. “Go first to his house and ask for his whereabouts. They will tell you Arlington Street. You will not know, of course, the contents of the letter you carry; your instructions were simply to deliver it and get an answer. Good! you will do that.”
The Prince, while he talked, was writing the note.
Felix thrust it into his pocket and went out. In less than half an hour he was back. The Baron had returned to the German Embassy unexpectedly before going to Arlington Street, and Felix had caught him there. The Prince tore open the answer, and read it hastily through.
“The German Embassy,
“Alas! my dear Prince, had I been able, nothing could have given me so much pleasure as to have joined your little party, but, unfortunately, this wretched climate, which we both so justly loathe, has upset my throat again, and I have too much regard for my life to hand myself over to the English doctors. Accordingly, all being well, I go to Berlin to-morrow night to consult our own justly-famed Dr. Steinlaus.
“Accept, my dear Prince, this expression of my most sincere regret, and believe me, yours most sincerely,
”Karl von Knigenstein.”
“The doctor whom he has gone to consult is no man of medicine,” the Prince said thoughtfully. “He has gone to the Emperor.”
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