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Title:      The Duchess of Wiltshire's Diamonds
Author:     Guy Boothby
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Language:   English
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Date first posted:          April 2006
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Title:      The Duchess of Wiltshire's Diamonds
Author:     Guy Boothby




To the reflective mind the rapidity with which the inhabitants of the
world's greatest city seize upon a new name or idea and familiarise
themselves with it, can scarcely prove otherwise than astonishing. As an
illustration of my meaning let me take the case of Klimo--the now famous
private detective, who has won for himself the right to be considered as
great as Lecocq, or even the late lamented Sherlock Holmes.

Up to a certain morning London had never even heard his name, nor had it
the remotest notion as to who or what he might be. It was as sublimely
ignorant and careless on the subject as the inhabitants of Kamtchaika or
Peru. Within twenty-four hours, however, the whole aspect of the case was
changed. The man, woman, or child who had not seen his posters, or heard
his name, was counted an ignoramus unworthy of intercourse with human
beings.

Princes became familiar with it as their trains tore them to Windsor to
luncheon with the Queen; the nobility noticed and commented upon it as
they drove about the town: merchants, and business men generally, read it
as they made their ways by omnibus 01--Underground, to their various
shops and counting-houses; street boys called each other by it as a
nickname; Music Hall Artistes introduced it into their patter, while it
was even rumoured that the Stock Exchange itself had paused in the full
flood tide of business to manufacture a riddle on the subject.

That Klimo made his profession pay him well was certain, first from the
fact that his advertisements must have cost a good round sum, and,
second, because he had taken a mansion in Belverton Street, Park Lane,
next door to Porchester House, where, to the dismay of that aristocratic
neighbourhood, he advertised that he was prepared to receive and be
consulted by his clients. The invitation was responded to with alacrity,
and from that day forward, between the hours of twelve and two, the
pavement upon the north side of the street was lined with carriages,
every one containing some person desirous of testing the great man's
skill.

I must here explain that I have narrated all this in order to show the
state of affairs existing in Belverton Street and Park Lane when Simon
Carne arrived, or was supposed to arrive in England. If my memory serves
me correctly, it was on Wednesday, the 3rd of May, that the Earl of
Amberley drove to Victoria to meet and welcome the man whose acquaintance
he had made in India under such peculiar circumstances, and under the
spell of whose fascination he and his family had fallen so completely.

Reaching the station, his lordship descended from his carriage, and made
his way to the platform set apart for the reception of the Continental
express. He walked with a jaunty air, and seemed to be on the best of
terms with himself and the world in general. How little he suspected the
existence of the noose into which he was so innocently running his head!

As if out of compliment to his arrival, the train put in an appearance
within a few moments of his reaching the platform. He immediately placed
himself in such a position that he could make sure of seeing the man he
wanted, and waited patiently until he should come in sight. Carne,
however, was not among the first batch, indeed, the majority of
passengers had passed before his lordship caught sight of him.

One thing was very certain, however great the crush might have been, it
would have been difficult to mistake Carne's figure. The man's infirmity
and the peculiar beauty of his face rendered him easily recognisable.
Possibly, after his long sojourn in India, he found the morning cold, for
he wore a long fur coat, the collar of which he had turned up round his
ears, thus making a fitting frame for his delicate face. On seeing Lord
Amberley he hastened forward to greet him.

"This is most kind and friendly of you," he said as he shook the other by
the hand. "A fine day and Lord Amberley to meet me. One could scarcely
imagine a better welcome."

As he spoke, one of his Indian servants approached and salaamed before
him. He gave him an order, and received an answer in Hindustani,
whereupon he turned again to Lord Amberley.

"You may imagine how anxious I am to see my new dwelling," he said. "My
servant tells me that my carriage is here, so may I hope that you will
drive back with me and see for yourself how I am likely to be lodged."

"I shall be delighted," said Lord Amberley, who was longing for the
opportunity, and they accordingly went out into the station yard together
to discover a brougham, drawn by two magnificent horses, and with Nur
Ali, in all the glory of white raiment and crested turban, on the box,
waiting to receive them. His lordship dismissed his Victoria, and when
Jowur Singh had taken his place beside his fellow servant upon the box,
the carriage rolled out of the station yard in the direction of Hyde
Park.

"I trust her ladyship is quite well," said Simon Carne politely, as they
turned into Gloucester Place.

"Excellently well, thank you," replied his lordship. "She bade me welcome
you to England in her name as well as my own, and I was to say that she
is looking forward to seeing you."

"She is most kind, and I shall do myself the honour of calling upon her
as soon as circumstances will permit," answered Carne. "I beg you will
convey my best thanks to her for her thought of me."

While these polite speeches were passing between them they were rapidly
approaching a large hoarding on which was displayed a poster setting
forth the name of the now famous detective, Klimo.

Simon Carne, leaning forward, studied it, and when they had passed,
turned to his friend again.

"At Victoria and on all the hoardings we meet I see an enormous placard,
bearing the word ' Klimo.' Pray, what does it mean?"

His lordship laughed.

"You are asking a question which, a month ago, was on the lips of nine
out of every ten Londoners. It is only within the last fortnight that we
have learned who and what 'Klimo' is."

"And pray what is he?"

"Well, the explanation is very simple. He is neither more nor less than a
remarkably astute private detective, who has succeeded in attracting
notice in such a way that half London has been induced to patronise him.
I have had no dealings with the man myself. But a friend of mine, Lord
Orpington, has been the victim of a most audacious burglary, and, the
police having failed to solve the mystery, he has called Klimo in. We
shall therefore see what he can do before many days are past. But, there,
I expect you will soon know more about him than any of us."

"Indeed! And why?"

"For the simple reason that he has taken No. 1, Belverton Terrace, the
house adjoining your own, and sees his clients there."

Simon Carne pursed up his lips, and appeared to be considering something.

"I trust he will not prove a nuisance," he said at last. "The agents who
found me the house should have acquainted me with the fact. Private
detectives, on however large a scale, scarcely strike one as the most
desirable of neighbours--particularly for a man who is so fond of quiet
as myself."

At this moment they were approaching their destination. As the carriage
passed Belverton Street and pulled up, Lord Amberley pointed to a long
line of vehicles standing before the detective's door.

"You can see for yourself something of the business he does," he said.
"Those are the carriages of his clients, and it is probable that twice as
many have arrived on foot."

"I shall certainly speak to the agent on the subject," said Carne, with a
shadow of annoyance upon his face. "I consider the fact of this man's
being so close to me a serious drawback to the house."

Jowur Singh here descended from the box and opened the door in order that
his master and his guest might alight, while portly Ram Gafur, the
butler, came down the steps and salaamed before them with Oriental
obsequiousness. Carne greeted his domestics with kindly condescension,
and then, accompanied by the ex-Viceroy, entered his new abode.

"I think you may congratulate yourself upon having secured one of the
most desirable residences in London," said his lordship ten minutes or so
later, when they had explored the principal rooms.

"I am very glad to hear you say so," said Carne." I trust your lordship
will remember that you will always be welcome in the house as long as I
am its owner."'

"It is very kind of you to say so," returned Lord Amberley warmly. "I
shall look forward to some months of pleasant intercourse. And now I must
be going. To-morrow, perhaps, if you have nothing better to do, you will
give us the pleasure of your company at dinner. Your fame has already
gone abroad, and we shall ask one or two nice people to meet you,
including my brother and sister-in-law. Lord and Lady Gelpington, Lord
and Lady Orpington, and my cousin, the Duchess of Wiltshire, whose
interest in China and Indian Art, as perhaps you know, is only second to
your own."

"I shall be most glad to come."

"We may count on seeing you in Eaton Square, then, at eight o'clock?"

"If I am alive you may be sure I shall be there. Must you really go? Then
good-bye, and many thanks for meeting me."

His lordship having left the house Simon Carne went upstairs to his
dressing room, which it was to be noticed he found without inquiry, and
rang the electric bell, beside the fireplace, three times. While he was
waiting for it to be answered he stood looking out of the window at the
long line of carriages in the street below.

"Everything is progressing admirably," he said to himself. "Amberley does
not suspect any more than the world in general. As a proof he asks me to
dinner to-morrow evening to meet his brother and sister-in-law, two of
his particular friends, and above all Her Grace of Wiltshire. Of course I
shall go, and when I bid Her Grace good-bye it will be strange if I am
not one step nearer the interest on Liz's money."

At this moment the door opened, and his valet, the grave and respectable
Belton, entered the room. Carne turned to greet him impatiently.

"Come, come, Belton," he said, "we must be quick. It is twenty minutes to
twelve and if we don't hurry, the folk next door will become impatient.
Have you succeeded in doing what I spoke to you about last night?"

"I have done everything, sir."

"I am glad to hear it. Now lock that door and let us get to work. You can
let me have your news while I am dressing."

Opening one side of a massive wardrobe that completely filled one end of
the room, Belton took from it a number of garments. They included a well
worn velvet coat, a baggy pair of trousers--so old that only a notorious
pauper or a millionaire could have afforded to wear them--a flannel
waistcoat, a Gladstone collar, a soft silk tie, and a pair of embroidered
carpet slippers upon which no old clothes man in the most reckless way of
business in Petticoat Lane would have advanced a single halfpenny. Into
these he assisted his master to change.

"Now give me the wig, and unfasten the straps of this hump," said Carne,
as the other placed the garments just referred to upon a neighbouring
chair.

Belton did as he was ordered, and then there happened a thing the like of
which no one would have believed. Having unbuckled a strap on either
shoulder, and slipped his hand beneath the waistcoat, he withdrew a large
papier-mache hump, which he carried away and carefully placed in a drawer
of the bureau. Relieved of his burden, Simon Carne stood up as straight
and well-made a man as any in Her Majesty's dominions. The malformation,
for which so many, including the Earl and Countess of Amberley, had often
pitied him, was nothing but a hoax intended to produce an effect which
would permit him additional facilities of disguise.

The hump discarded, and the grey wig fitted carefully to his head in such
a manner that not even a pinch of his own curlylocks could be seen
beneath it, he adorned his cheeks with a pair of crepu-hair whiskers,
donned the flannel vest and the velvet coat previously mentioned, slipped
his feet into the carpet slippers, placed a pair of smoked glasses upon
his nose, and declared himself ready to proceed about his business. The
man who would have known him for Simon Carne would have been as astute
as, well, shall we say, as the private detective--Klimo himself.

"It's on the stroke of twelve," he said, as he gave a final glance at
himself in the pier-glass above the dressing-table, and arranged his tie
to his satisfaction. "Should anyone call, instruct Ram Gafur to tell them
that I have gone out on business, and shall not be back until three
o'clock."

"Very good, sir."

"Now undo the door and let me go in." Thus commanded, Belton went across
to the large wardrobe which, as I have already said, covered the whole of
one side of the room, and opened the middle door. Two or three garments
were seen inside suspended on pegs, and these he removed, at the same
time pushing towards the right the panel at the rear. When this was done
a large aperture in the wall between the two houses was disclosed.
Through this door Carne passed drawing it behind him.

In No. 1, Belverton Terrace, the house occupied by the detective, whose
presence in the street Carne seemed to find so objectionable, the
entrance thus constructed was covered by the peculiar kind of
confessional box in which Klimo invariably sat to receive his clients,
the rearmost panels of which opened in the same fashion as those in the
wardrobe in the dressing-room. These being pulled aside, he had but to
draw them to again after him, take his seat, ring the electric bell to
inform his housekeeper that he was ready, and then welcome his clients as
quickly as they cared to come.

Punctually at two o'clock the interviews ceased, and Klimo, having reaped
an excellent harvest of fees, returned to Porchester House to become
Simon Carne once more.

Possibly it was due to the fact that the Earl and Countess of Amberley
were brimming over with his praise, it may have been the rumour that he
was worth as many millions as you have fingers upon your hand that did
it; one thing, however, was self evident, within twenty-four hours of the
noble Earl's meeting him at Victoria Station, Simon Carne was the talk,
not only of fashionable, but also of unfashionable, London.

That his household were, with one exception, natives of India, that he
had paid a rental for Porchester House which ran into five figures, that
he was the greatest living authority upon China and Indian art generally,
and that he had come over to England in search of a wife, were among the
smallest of the canards set afloat concerning him.

During dinner next evening Carne put forth every effort to please. He was
placed on the right hand of his hostess and next to the Duchess of
Wiltshire. To the latter he paid particular attention, and to such good
purpose that when the ladies returned to the drawing-room afterwards Her
Grace was full of his praises. They had discussed china of all sorts,
Carne had promised her a specimen which she had longed for all her life,
but had never been able to obtain, and in return she had promised to show
him the quaintly carved Indian casket in which the famous necklace, of
which he had, of course, heard, spent most of its time. She would be
wearing the jewels in question at her own ball in a week's time, she
informed him, and if he would care to see the case when it came from her
bankers on that day, she would be only too pleased to show it to him.

As Simon Carne drove home in his luxurious brougham afterwards, he smiled
to himself as he thought of the success which was attending his first
endeavour. Two of the guests, who were stewards of the Jockey Club, had
heard with delight his idea of purchasing a horse in order to have an
interest in the Derby. While another, on hearing that he desired to
become the possessor of a yacht, had offered to propose him for the
R.C.Y.C. To crown it all, however, and much better than all, the Duchess
of Wiltshire had promised to show him her famous diamonds.

"By this time next week," he said to himself, "Liz's interest should be
considerably closer. But satisfactory as my progress has been hitherto it
is difficult to see how I am to get possession of the stones. From what I
have been able to discover they are only brought from the bank on the day
the Duchess intends to wear them, and they are taken back by His Grace
the morning following.

"While she has got them on her person it would be manifestly impossible
to get them from her. And as, when she takes them off, they are returned
to their box and placed in a safe, constructed in the wall of the bedroom
adjoining, and which for the occasion is occupied by the butler and one
of the under footmen, the only key being in the possession of the Duke
himself, it would be equally foolish to hope to appropriate them. In what
manner therefore I am to become their possessor passes my comprehension.
However, one thing is certain, obtained they must be, and the attempt
must be made on the night of the ball if possible. In the meantime I'll
set my wits to work upon a plan."

Next day Simon Carne was the recipient of an invitation to the ball in
question, and two days later he called upon the Duchess of Wiltshire at
her residence in Belgrave Square with a plan prepared. He also took with
him the small vase he had promised her four nights before. She received
him most graciously, and their talk fell at once into the usual channel.
Having examined her collection and charmed her by means of one or two
judicious criticisms, he asked permission to include photographs of
certain of her treasures in his forthcoming book, then little by little
he skilfully guided the conversation on to the subject of jewels.

"Since we are discussing gems, Mr. Carne," she said, "perhaps it would
interest you to see my famous necklace. By good fortune I have it in the
house now, for the reason that an alteration is being made to one of the
clasps by my jewellers."

"I should like to see it immensely," answered Carne. "At one time and
another I have had the good fortune to examine the jewels of the leading
Indian Princes, and I should like to be able to say that I had seen the
famous Wiltshire necklace."

"Then you shall certainly have that honour," she answered with a smile.
"If you will ring that bell I will send for it."

Carne rang the bell as requested, and when the butler entered he was
given the key of the safe and ordered to bring the case to the
drawing-room.

"We must not keep it very long," she observed while the man was absent.
"It is to be returned to the bank in an hour's time."

"I am indeed fortunate," Carne replied, and turned to the description of
some curious Indian wood carving, of which he was making a special
feature in his book. As he explained, he had collected his illustrations
from the doors of Indian temples, from the gateways of palaces, from old
brass work, and even from carved chairs and boxes he had picked up in all
sorts of odd corners. Her Grace was most interested.

"How strange that you should have mentioned it," she said. "If carved
boxes have any interest for you, it is possible my jewel case itself may
be of use to you. As I think I told you during Lady Amberley's dinner, it
came from Benares, and has carved upon it the portraits of nearly every
god in the Hindu Pantheon."

"You raise my curiosity to fever heat," said Carne.

A few moments later the servant returned, bringing with him a wooden box,
about sixteen inches long, by twelve wide, and eight deep, which he
placed upon a table beside his mistress, after which he retired.

"This is the case to which I have just been referring," said the Duchess,
placing her hand on the article in question. "If you glance at it you
will see how exquisitely it is carved."

Concealing his eagerness with an effort, Simon Carne drew his chair up to
the table, and examined the box.

It was with justice she had described it as a work of art. What the wood
was of which it was constructed Carne was unable to tell. It was dark and
heavy, and, though it was not teak, closely resembled it. It was
literally covered with quaint carving, and of its kind was a unique work
of art.

"It is most curious and beautiful," said Carne when he had finished his
examination. "In all my experience I can safely say I have never seen its
equal. If you will permit me I should very much like to include a
description and an illustration of it in my book."

"Of course you may do so; I shall be only too delighted," answered Her
Grace. "If it will help you in your work I shall be glad to lend it to
you for a few hours in order that you may have the illustration made."

This was exactly what Carne had been waiting for, and he accepted the
offer with alacrity.

"Very well, then," she said. "On the day of my ball, when it will be
brought from the bank again, I will take the necklace out and send the
case to you. I must make one proviso however, and that is that you let me
have it back the same day."

"I will certainly promise to do that," replied Carne.

"And now let us look inside," said his hostess.

Choosing a key from a bunch she carried in her pocket, she unlocked the
casket, and lifted the lid. Accustomed as Carne had all his life been to
the sight of gems, what he saw before him then almost took his breath
away. The inside of the box, both sides and bottom, was quilted with the
softest Russia leather, and on this luxurious couch reposed the famous
necklace. The fire of the stones when the light caught them was
sufficient to dazzle the eyes, so fierce was it.

As Carne could see, every gem was perfect of its kind, and there were no
fewer than three hundred of them. The setting was a fine example of the
jeweller's art, and last, but not least, the value of the whole affair
was fifty thousand pounds, a mere fleabite to the man who had given it to
his wife, but a fortune to any humbler person.

"And now that you have seen my property, what do you think of it?" asked
the Duchess as she watched her visitor's face.

"It is very beautiful," he answered, "and I do not wonder that you are
proud of it. Yes, the diamonds are very fine, but I think it is their
abiding place that fascinates me more.

Have you any objection to my measuring it?"

"Pray do so, if it is likely to be of any assistance to you," replied Her
Grace.

Carne thereupon produced a small ivory rule, ran it over the box, and the
figures he thus obtained he jotted down in his pocket book.

Ten minutes later, when the case had been returned to the safe, he
thanked the Duchess for her kindness and took his departure, promising to
call in person for the empty case on the morning of the ball.

Reaching home he passed into his study, and, seating himself at his
writing table, pulled a sheet of note paper towards him and began to
sketch, as well as he could remember it, the box he had seen. Then he
leant back in his chair and closed his eyes.

"I have cracked a good many hard nuts in my time," he said reflectively,
"but never one that seemed so difficult at first sight as this. As far as
I see at present, the case stands as follows: the box will be brought
from the bank where it usually reposes to Wiltshire House on the morning
of the dance. I shall be allowed to have possession of it, without the
stones of course, for a period possibly extending from eleven o'clock in
the morning to four or five, at any rate not later than seven, in the
evening. After the ball the necklace will be returned to it, when it will
be locked up in the safe, over which the butler and a footman will mount
guard.

"To get into the room during the night is not only too risky, but
physically out of the question; while to rob Her Grace of her treasure
during the progress of the dance would be equally impossible. The Duke
fetches the casket and takes it back to the bank himself, so that to all
intents and purposes I am almost as far off the solution as ever."

Half-an-hour went by and found him still seated at his desk, staring at
the drawing on the paper, then an hour. The traffic of the streets rolled
past the house unheeded. Finally Jowur Singh announced his carriage, and,
feeling that an idea might come to him with a change of scene, he set off
for a drive in the park.

By this time his elegant mail phaeton, with its magnificent horses and
Indian servant on the seat behind, was as well-known as Her Majesty's
state equipage, and attracted almost as much attention. To-day, however,
the fashionable world noticed that Simon Carne looked preoccupied. He was
still working out his problem, but so far without much success. Suddenly
something, no one will ever be able to say what, put an idea into his
head. The notion was no sooner born in his brain than he left the park
and drove quickly home. Ten minutes had scarcely elapsed before he was
back in his study again, and had ordered that Wajib Baksh should be sent
to him.

When the man he wanted put in an appearance, Carne handed him the paper
upon which he had made the drawing of the jewel case.

"Look at that," he said," and tell me what thou seest there."

"I see a box," answered the man, who by this time was well accustomed to
his master's ways.

"As thou say'st, it is a box," said Carne. "The wood is heavy and hick,
though what wood it is I do not know. The measurements are upon the paper
below. Within, both the sides and bottom are quilted with soft leather as
I have also shown. Think now, Wajib Baksh, for in this case thou wilt
need to have all thy wits about thee. Tell me is it in thy power, oh most
cunning of all craftsmen, to insert such extra sides within this box that
they, being held by a spring, shall lie so snug as not to be noticeable
to the ordinary eye? Can it be so arranged that, when the box is locked,
they shall fall flat upon the bottom thus covering and holding fast what
lies beneath them, and yet making the box appear to the eye as if it were
empty. Is it possible for thee to do such a thing?"

Wajib Baksh did not reply for a few moments. His instinct told him what
his master wanted, and he was not disposed to answer hastily, for he also
saw that his reputation as the most cunning craftsman in India was at
stake.

"If the Heaven-born will permit me the night for thought," he said at
last, "I will come to him when he rises from his bed and tell him what I
can do, and he can then give his orders as it pleases him."

"Very good," said Carne. "Then tomorrow morning I shall expect thy
report. Let the work be good and there will be many rupees for thee to
touch in return. As to the lock and the way it shall act, let that be the
concern of Hiram Singh."

Wajib Baksh salaamed and withdrew, and Simon Carne for the time being
dismissed the matter from his mind.

Next morning, while he was dressing, Belton reported that the two
artificers desired an interview with him. He ordered them to be admitted,
and forthwith they entered the room. It was noticeable that Wajib Baksh
carried in his hand a heavy box, which, upon Carne's motioning him to do
so, he placed upon the table.

"Have ye thought over the matter?" he asked, seeing that the men waited
for him to speak.

"We have thought of it," replied Hiram Singh, who always acted as
spokesman for the pair. "If the Presence will deign to look he will see
that we have made a box of the size and shape such as he drew upon the
paper."

"Yes, it is certainly a good copy," said Carne condescendingly, after he
had examined it.

Wajib Baksh showed his white teeth in appreciation of the compliment, and
Hiram Singh drew closer to the table.

"And now, if the Sahib will open it, he will in his wisdom be able to
tell if it resembles the other that he has in his mind."

Carne opened the box as requested, and discovered that the interior was
an exact counterfeit of the Duchess of Wiltshire's jewel case, even to
the extent of the quilted leather lining which had been the other's
principal feature. He admitted that the likeness was all that could be
desired.

"As he is satisfied," said Hiram Singh, "it may be that the Protector of
the Poor will deign to try an experiment with it. See, here is a comb.
Let it be placed in the box, so--now he will see what he will see."

The broad, silver-backed comb, lying upon his dressing-table, was placed
on the bottom of the box, the lid was closed, and the key turned in the
lock. The case being securely fastened, Hiram Singh laid it before his
master.

"I am to open it, I suppose?" said Carne, taking the key and replacing it
in the lock.

"If my master pleases," replied the other.

Carne accordingly turned it in the lock, and, having done so, raised the
lid and looked inside. His astonishment was complete. To all intents and
purposes the box was empty. The comb was not to be seen, and yet the
quilted sides and bottom were, to all appearances, just the same as when
he had first looked inside.

"This is most wonderful," he said. And indeed it was as clever a
conjuring trick as any he had ever seen.

"Nay, it is very simple," Wajib Baksh replied. "The Heaven-born told me
that there must be no risk of detection."

He took the box in his own hands and, running his nails down the centre
of the quilting, dividing the false bottom into two pieces; these he
lifted out, revealing the comb lying upon the real bottom beneath.

"The sides, as my lord will see," said Hiram Singh, taking a step
forward, "are held in their appointed places by these two springs. Thus,
when the key is turned the springs relax, and the sides are driven by
others into their places on the bottom, where the seams in the quilting
mask the join. There is but one disadvantage. It is as follows: When the
pieces which form the bottom are lifted out in order that my lord may get
at whatever lies concealed beneath, the springs must of necessity stand
revealed. However, to anyone who knows sufficient of the working of the
box to lift out the false bottom, it will be an easy matter to withdraw
the springs and conceal them about his person."

"As you say that is an easy matter," said Carne, "and I shall not be
likely to forget. Now one other question. Presuming I am in a position to
put the real box into your hands for say eight hours, do you think that
in that time you can fit it up so that detection will be impossible?"

"Assuredly, my lord," replied Hiram Singh with conviction. "There is but
the lock and the fitting of the springs to be done. Three hours at most
would y suffice for that."

"I am pleased with you," said || Carne. "As a proof of my satisfaction,
when the work is finished you will each receive five hundred rupees. Now
you can go."

According to his promise, ten o'clock on the Friday following found him
in his hansom driving towards Belgrave Square. He was a little anxious,
though the casual observer would scarcely have been able to tell it. The
magnitude of the stake for which he was playing was enough to try the
nerve of even such a past master in his profession as Simon Carne.

Arriving at the house he discovered some workmen erecting an awning
across the footway in preparation for the ball that was to take place at
night. It was not long, however, before he found himself in the boudoir,
reminding Her Grace of her promise to permit him an opportunity of making
a drawing of the famous jewel case. The Duchess was naturally busy, and
within a quarter of an hour he was on his way home with the box placed on
the seat of the carriage beside him.

"Now," he said, as he patted it good-humouredly, "if only the notion
worked out by Hiram Singh and Wajib Baksh holds good, the famous
Wiltshire diamonds will become my property before very many hours are
passed. By this time to-morrow, I suppose,London will be all agog
concerning the burglary."

On reaching his house he left his carriage and himself carried the box
into his study. Once there he rang his bell and ordered Hiram Singh and
Wajib Baksh to be sent to him. When they arrived he showed them the box
upon which they were to exercise their ingenuity.

"Bring your tools in here," he said, "and do the work under my own eyes.
You have but nine hours before you, so you must make the most of them."

The men went for their implements, and as soon as they were ready set to
work. All through the day they were kept hard at it, with the result that
by five o'clock the alterations had been effected and the case stood
ready. By the time Carne returned from his afternoon drive in the Park it
was quite prepared for the part it was to play in his scheme. Having
praised the men, he turned them out and locked the door, then went across
the room and unlocked a drawer in his writing table. From it he took a
flat leather jewel case which he opened. It contained a necklace of
counterfeit diamonds, if anything a little larger than the one he
intended to try to obtain. He had purchased it that morning in the
Burlington Arcade for the purpose of testing the apparatus his servants
had made, and this he now proceeded to do.

Laying it carefully upon the bottom he closed the lid and turned the key.
When he opened it again the necklace was gone, and even though he knew
the secret he could not for the life of him see where the false bottom
began and ended. After that he reset the trap and tossed the necklace
carelessly in. To his delight it acted as well as on the previous
occasion. He could scarcely contain his satisfaction. His conscience was
sufficiently elastic to give him no trouble. To him it was scarcely a
robbery he was planning, but an artistic trial of skill, in which he
pitted his wits and cunning against the forces of society in general.

At half-past seven he dined and afterwards smoked a meditative cigar over
the evening paper in the billiard room. The invitations to the ball were
for ten o'clock, and at nine-thirty he went to his dressing-room.

"Make me tidy as quickly as you can," he said to Belton when the latter
appeared, "and while you are doing so listen to my final instructions.

"To-night, as you know, I am endeavouring to secure the Duchess of
Wiltshire's necklace. To-morrow morning all London will resound with the
hubbub, and I have been making my plans in such a way as to arrange that
Klimo shall be the first person consulted. When the messenger calls, if
call he does, see that the old woman next door bids him tell the Duke to
come personally at twelve o'clock. Do you understand?"

"Perfectly, sir."

"Very good. Now give me the jewel case, and let me be on. You need not
sit up for me."

Precisely as the clocks in the neighbourhood were striking ten Simon
Carne reached Belgrave Square, and, as he hoped, found himself the first
guest.

His hostess and her husband received him in the ante-room of the
drawing-room.

"I come laden with a thousand apologies," he said as he took Her Grace's
hand, and bent over it with that ceremonious politeness which was one of
the man's chief characteristics. "I am most unconscionably early, I know,
but I hastened here in order that I might personally return the jewel
case you so kindly lent me. I must trust to your generosity to forgive
me. The drawings took longer than I expected."

"Please do not apologise," answered Her Grace. "It is very kind of you to
have brought the case yourself. I hope the illustrations have proved
successful. I shall look forward to seeing them as soon as they are
ready. But I am keeping you holding the box. One of my servants will take
it to my room."

She called a footman to her and bade him take the box and place it upon
her dressing-table.

"Before it goes I must let you see that I have not damaged it either
externally or internally," said Carne with a laugh. "It is such a
valuable case that I should never forgive myself if it had even received
a scratch during the time it has been in my possession."

So saying he lifted the lid and allowed her to look inside. To all
appearance it was exactly the same as when she had lent it to him earlier
in the day.

"You have been most careful," she said. And then, with an air of banter,
she continued: "If you desire it I shall be pleased to give you a
certificate to that effect."

They jested in this fashion for a few moments after the servant's
departure, during which time Carne promised to call upon her the
following morning at eleven o'clock, and to bring with him the
illustrations he had made and a queer little piece of china he had had
the good fortune to pick up in a dealer's shop the previous afternoon. By
this time fashionable London was making its way up the grand staircase,
and with its appearance further conversation became impossible.

Shortly after midnight Carne bade his hostess good night and slipped
away. He was perfectly satisfied with his evening's entertainment, and if
the key of the jewel case were not turned before the jewels were placed
in it, he was convinced they would become his property. It speaks well
for his strength of nerve when I record the fact that on going to bed his
slumbers were as peaceful and untroubled as those of a little child.

Breakfast was scarcely over next morning before a hansom drew up at his
front door and Lord Amberley alighted. He was ushered into Carne's
presence forthwith, and on seeing that the latter was surprised at his
early visit, hastened to explain.

"My dear fellow," he said as he took possession of the chair the other
offered him, "I have come round to see you on most important business. As
I told you last night at the dance, when you so kindly asked me to come
and see the steam yacht you have purchased, I had an appointment with
Wiltshire at half-past nine this morning. On reaching Belgrave Square, I
found the whole house in confusion. Servants were running hither and
thither with scared faces, the butler was on the borders of lunacy, the
Duchess was well-nigh hysterical in her boudoir, while her husband was in
his study vowing vengeance against all the world."

"You alarm me," said Carne, lighting a cigarette with a hand that was as
steady as a rock. "What on earth has happened?"

"I think I might safely allow you fifty guesses and then wager a hundred
pounds you'd not hit the mark; and yet in a certain measure it concerns
you."

"Concerns me? Good gracious. What have I done to bring all this about?'

"Pray do not look so alarmed," said Amberley. "Personally you have done
nothing. Indeed, on second thoughts, I don't know that I am right in
saying that it concerns you at all. The fact of the matter is, Carne, a
burglary took place last night at Wiltshire House, and the famous
necklace has disappeared, "

"Good Heavens! You don't say so?"

"But I do. The circumstances of the case are as follows: When my cousin
retired to her room last night after the ball, she unclasped the
necklace, and, in her husband's presence, placed it carefully in her
jewel case, which she locked. That having been done, Wiltshire took the
box to the room which contained the safe, and himself placed it there,
locking the iron door with his own key. The room was occupied that night,
according to custom, by the butler and one of the footmen, both of whom
have been in the family since they were boys.

"Next morning, after breakfast, the Duke unlocked the safe and took out
the box, intending to convey it to the Bank as usual. Before leaving,
however, he placed it on his study-table and went upstairs to speak to
his wife. He cannot remember exactly how long he was absent, but he feels
convinced that he was not gone more than a quarter of an hour at the very
utmost.

"Their conversation finished, she accompanied him downstairs, where she
saw him take up the case to carry it to his carriage. Before he left the
house, however, she said: "I suppose you have looked to see that the
necklace is all right?' 'How could I do so?' was his reply. 'You know you
possess the only key that will fit it.'

"She felt in her pockets, but to her surprise the key was not there."

"If I were a detective I should say that that is a point to be
remembered," said Carne with a smile. "Pray, where did she find her
keys?"

"Upon her dressing-table," said Amberley. "Though she has not the
slightest recollection of leaving them there."

"Well, when she had procured the keys, what happened?"

"Why, they opened the box, and to their astonishment and dismay, found it
empty. The jewels were gone!"

"Good gracious. What a terrible loss! It seems almost impossible that it
can be true. And pray, what did they do?"

"At first they stood staring into the empty box, hardly believing the
evidence of their own eyes. Stare how they would, however, they could not
bring them back. The jewels had without doubt disappeared, but when and
where the robbery had taken place it was impossible to say. After that
they had up all the servants and questioned them, but the result was what
they might have foreseen, no one from the butler to the kitchenmaid could
throw any light upon the subject. To this minute it remains as great a
mystery as when they first discovered it."

"I am more concerned than I can tell you," said Carne. "How thankful I
ought to be that I returned the case to Her Grace last night. But in
thinking of myself I am forgetting to ask what has brought you to me. If
I can be of any assistance I hope you will command me."

"Well, I'll tell you why I have come," replied Lord Amberley. "Naturally
they are most anxious to have the mystery solved and the jewels recovered
as soon as possible. Wiltshire wanted to send to Scotland Yard there and
then, but his wife and I eventually persuaded him to consult Klimo. As
you know, if the police authorities are called in first he refuses the
business altogether. Now, we thought, as you are his next door neighbour,
you might possibly be able to assist us."

"You may be very sure, my lord, I will do everything that lies in my
power. Let us go in and see him at once."

As he spoke he rose and threw what remained of his cigarette into the
fireplace. His visitor having imitated his example, they procured their
hats and walked round from Park Lane into Belverton Street to bring up at
No. 1. After they had rung the bell the door was opened to them by the
old woman who invariably received the detective's clients.

"Is Mr. Klimo at home?" asked Carne. "And, if so, can we see him?"

The old lady was a little deaf, and the question had to be repeated
before she could be made to understand what was wanted. As soon, however,
as she realised their desire she informed them that her master was absent
from town, but would be back as usual at twelve o'clock to meet his
clients.

"What on earth's to be done?" said the Earl, looking at his companion in
dismay. "I am afraid I can't come back again, as I have a most important
appointment at that hour."

"Do you think you could intrust the business to me?" asked Carne. "If so,
I will make a point of seeing him at twelve o'clock, and could call at
Wiltshire House afterwards and tell the Duke what I have done."

"That's very good of you," replied Amberley. "If you are sure it would
not put you to too much trouble, that would be quite the best thing to be
done."

"I will do it with pleasure," Carne replied. "I feel it my duty to help
in whatever way I can."

"You are very kind," said the other. "Then, as I understand it, you are
to call upon Klimo at twelve o'clock, and afterwards to let my cousins
know what you have succeeded in doing. I only hope he will help us to
secure the thief. We are having too many of these burglaries just now. I
must catch this hansom and be off. Goodbye, and many thanks."

"Goodbye," said Carne, and shook him by the hand.

The hansom having rolled away, Carne retraced his steps to his own abode.

"It is really very strange," he muttered as he walked along, "how often
chance condescends to lend her assistance to my little schemes. The mere
fact that His Grace left the box unwatched in his study for a quarter of
an hour may serve to throw the police off on quite another scent. I am
also glad that they decided to open the case in the house, for if it had
gone to the bankers' and had been placed in the strong room unexamined, I
should never have been able to get possession of the jewels at all."

Three hours later he drove to Wiltshire House and saw the Duke. The
Duchess was far too much upset by the catastrophe to see anyone.

"This is really most kind of you, Mr. Carne," said His Grace when the
other had supplied an elaborate account of his interview with Klimo. "We
are extremely indebted to you. I am sorry he cannot come before ten
o'clock to-night, and that he makes this stipulation of my seeing him
alone, for I must confess I should like to have had someone else present
to ask any questions that might escape me. But if that's his usual hour
and custom, well, we must abide by it, that's all. I hope he will do some
good, for this is the greatest calamity that has ever befallen me. As I
told you just now, it has made my wife quite ill. She is confined to her
bedroom and quite hysterical."

"You do not suspect anyone, I suppose," inquired Carne.

"Not a soul," the other answered. "The thing is such a mystery that we do
not know what to think. I feel convinced, however, that my servants are
as innocent as I am. Nothing will ever make me think them otherwise. I
wish I could catch the fellow, that's all. I'd make him suffer for the
trick he's played me."

Carne offered an appropriate reply, and after a little further
conversation upon the subject, bade the irate nobleman goodbye and left
the house. From Belgrave Square he drove to one of the clubs of which he
had been elected a member, in search of Lord Orpington, with whom he had
promised to lunch, and afterwards took him to a ship-builder's yard near
Greenwich in order to show him the steam yacht he had lately purchased.

It was close upon dinner time before he returned to his own residence. He
brought Lord Orpington with him, and they dined in state together. At
nine the latter bade him good-bye, and at ten Carne retired to his
dressing-room and rang for Belton.

"What have you to report," he asked, "with regard to what I bade you do
in Belgrave Square?"

"I followed your instructions to the letter," Belton replied. "Yesterday
morning I wrote to Messrs. Horniblow and Jimson, the house agents in
Piccadily, in the name of Colonel Braithwaite, and asked for an order to
view the residence to the right of Wiltshire House. I asked that the
order might be sent direct to the house, where the Colonel would get it
upon his arrival. This letter I posted myself in Basingstoke, as you
desired me to do.

"At nine o'clock yesterday morning I dressed myself as much like an
elderly army officer as possible, and took a cab to Belgrave Square. The
caretaker, an old fellow of close upon seventy years of age, admitted me
immediately upon hearing my name, and proposed that he should show me
over the house. This, however, I told him was quite unnecessary, backing
my speech with a present of half-a-crown, whereupon he returned to his
breakfast perfectly satisfied, while I wandered about the house at my own
leisure.

"Reaching the same floor as that upon which is situated the room in which
the Duke's safe is kept, I discovered that your supposition was quite
correct, and that it would be possible for a man, by opening the window,
to make his way along the coping from one house to the other, without
being seen. I made certain that there was no one in the bedroom in which
the butler slept, and then arranged the long telescope walking stick you
gave me, and fixed one of my boots to it by means of the screw in the
end. With this I was able to make a regular succession of footsteps in
the dust along the ledge, between one window and the other.

"That done, I went downstairs again, bade the caretaker good morning, and
got into my cab. From Belgrave Square I drove to the shop of the
pawnbroker whom you told me you had discovered was out of town. His
assistant inquired my business and was anxious to do what he could for
me. I told him, however, that I must see his master personally as it was
about the sale of some diamonds I had had left me. I pretended to be
annoyed that he was not at home, and muttered to myself, so that the man
could hear, something about its meaning a journey to Amsterdam.

"Then I limped out of the shop, paid off my cab, and, walking down a
bystreet, removed my moustache, and altered my appearance by taking off
my great coat and muffler. A few streets further on I purchased a bowler
hat in place of the old-fashioned topper I had hitherto been wearing, and
then took a cab from Piccadilly and came home."

"You have fulfilled my instructions admirably," said Carne. "And if the
business comes off, as I expect it will, you shall receive your usual
percentage. Now I must be turned into Klimo and be off to Belgrave Square
to put His Grace of Wiltshire upon the track of this burglar."

Before he retired to rest that night Simon Carne took something, wrapped
in a red silk handkerchief, from the capacious pocket of the coat Klimo
had been wearing a few moments before. Having unrolled the covering, he
held up to the light the magnificent necklace which for so many years had
been the joy and pride of the ducal house of Wiltshire. The electric
light played upon it, and touched it with a thousand different hues.

"Where so many have failed," he said to himself, as he wrapped it in the
handkerchief again and locked it in his safe, "it is pleasant to be able
to congratulate oneself on having succeeded. It is without its equal, and
I don't think I shall be overstepping the mark if I say that I think when
she receives it Liz will be glad she lent me the money."

Next morning all London was astonished by the news that the famous
Wiltshire diamonds had been stolen, and a few hours later Carne learnt
from an evening paper that the detectives who had taken up the case, upon
the supposed retirement from it of Klimo, were still completely at fault.

That evening he was to entertain several friends to dinner. They included
Lord Amberley, Lord Orpington, and a prominent member of the Privy
Council. Lord Amberley arrived late, but filled to overflowing with
importance. His friends noticed his state, and questioned him.

"Well, gentlemen," he answered, as he took up a commanding position upon
the drawing-room hearthrug, "I am in a position to inform you that Klimo
has reported upon the case, and the upshot of it is that the Wiltshire
Diamond Mystery is a mystery no longer."

"What do you mean?" asked the others in a chorus.

"I mean that he sent in his report to Wiltshire this afternoon, as
arranged. From what he said the other night, after being alone in the
room with the empty jewel case and a magnifying glass for two minutes or
so, he was in a position to describe the modus operandi, and what is more
to put the police on the scent of the burglar."

"And how was it worked?" asked Carne.

"From the empty house next door," replied the other. "On the morning of
the burglary a man, purporting to be a retired army officer, called with
an order to view, got the caretaker out of the way, clambered along to
Wiltshire House by means of the parapet outside, reached the room during
the time the servants were at breakfast, opened the safe, and abstracted
the jewels."

"But how did Klimo find all this out?" asked Lord Orpington.

"By his own inimitable cleverness," replied Lord Amberley. "At any rate
it has been proved that he was correct. The man did make his way from
next door, and the police have since discovered that an individual,
answering to the description given, visited a pawnbroker's shop in the
city about an hour later and stated that he had diamonds to sell."

"If that is so it turns out to be a very simple mystery after all," said
Lord Orpington as they began their meal.

"Thanks to the ingenuity of the cleverest detective in the world,"
remarked Amberley.

"In that case here's a good health to Klimo," said the Privy Councillor,
raising his glass.

"I will join you in that," said Simon Carne. "Here's a very good health
to Klimo and his connection with the Duchess of Wiltshire's diamonds. May
he always be equally successful! "

"Hear, hear to that," replied his guests.

AN IMPERIAL FINALE

GUY BOOTHBY

OF all the functions that ornament the calendar of the English social and
sporting year, surely the Cowes week may claim to rank as one of the
greatest, or at least the most enjoyable. So thought Simon Carne as he
sat on the deck of Lord Tremorden's yacht, anchored off the mouth of the
Medina River, smoking his cigarette and whispering soft nothings into the
little shell-like ear of Lady Mabel Madderley, the lady of all others who
had won the right to be considered the beauty of the past season. It was
a perfect afternoon, and, as if to fill his flagon of enjoyment to the
very brim, he had won the Queen's Cup with his yacht The Unknown Quantity
only half-an-hour before. Small wonder, therefore, that he was contented
with his lot in life, and his good fortune of that afternoon in
particular.

The tiny harbour was crowded with shipping of all sorts, shapes, and
sizes, including the guardship, his Imperial Majesty the Emperor of
Westphalia's yacht the Hohenszrallas, the English Royal yachts,  steam
yachts, schooners, cutters, and all the various craft taking part in
England's greatest water carnival. Steam launches darted hither and
thither, smartly equipped gigs conveyed gaily dressed parties from vessel
to vessel, while, ashore, the little town itself was alive with bunting,
and echoed to the strains of almost continuous music.

"Surely you ought to consider yourself a very happy man, Mr. Carne," said
Lady Mabel Madderley, with a smile, in reply to a speech of the other's.
"You won the Derby in June, and to-day you have appropriated the Queen's
Cup."

"If such things constitute happiness, I suppose I must be in the seventh
Heaven of Delight," answered Carne, as he took another cigarette from his
case and lit it. "All the same, I am insatiable enough to desire still
greater fortune. When one has set one's heart upon winning something,
besides which the Derby and the Queen's Cup are items scarcely worth
considering, one is rather apt to feel that fortune has still much to
give."

"I am afraid I do not quite grasp your meaning," she said. But there was
a look in her face that told him that, if she did not understand, she
could at least make a very good guess. According to the world's
reckoning, he was quite the best fish then swimming in the matrimonial
pond, and some people, for the past few weeks, had even gone so far as to
say that she had hooked him. It could not be denied that he had been
paying her unmistakable attention of late.

What answer he would have vouchsafed to her speech it is impossible to
say, for at that moment their host came along the deck towards them. He
carried a note in his hand.

"I have just received a message to say that his Imperial Majesty is going
to honour us with a visit," he said, when he reached them. "If I mistake
not, that is his launch coming towards us now."

Lady Mabel and Simon Carne rose and accompanied him to the starboard
bulwarks. A smart white launch, with the Westphalian flag flying at her
stern, had left the Royal yacht and was steaming quickly towards them. A
few minutes later it had reached the companion ladder, and Lord Tremorden
had descended to welcome his Royal guest. When they reached the deck
together, his Majesty shook hands with Lady Tremorden, and afterwards
with Lady Mabel and Simon Carne.

"I must congratulate you most heartily, Mr. Carne," he said, "on your
victory to-day. You gave us an excellent race, and though I had the
misfortune to be beaten by thirty seconds, still I have the satisfaction
of knowing that the winner was a better boat in every way than my own."

"Your Majesty adds to the sweets of victory by your generous acceptance
of defeat," Carne replied. "But I must confess that I owe my success in
no way to my own ability. The boat was chosen for me by another, and I
have not even the satisfaction of saying that I sailed her myself."

"Nevertheless she is your property, and you will go down to posterity
famous in yachting annals as the winner of the Queen's Cup in this justly
celebrated year."

With this compliment his Majesty turned to his hostess and entered into
conversation with her, leaving his aide-de-camp free to discuss the
events of the day with Lady Mabel. When he took his departure
half-an-hour later, Carne also bade his friends goodbye, and, descending
to his boat, was rowed away to his own beautiful steam yacht, which was
anchored a few cables' length away from the Imperial craft. He was to
dine on board the latter vessel that evening.

On gaining the deck he was met by Belton, his valet, who carried a
telegram in his hand. As soon as he received it, Carne opened it and
glanced at the contents, without, however, betraying very much interest.

An instant later the expression upon his face changed like magic. Still
holding the message in his hand, he turned to Belton.

"Come below," he said quickly. "There is news enough here to give us
something to think of for hours to come."

Reaching the saloon, which was decorated with all the daintiness of the
upholsterer's art, he led the way to the cabin he had arranged as a
study. Having entered it, he shut and locked the door.

"It's all up, Belton," he said. "The comedy has lasted long enough, and
now it only remains for us to speak the tag, and after that to ring the
curtain down as speedily as may be."

"I am afraid, sir, I do not quite take your meaning," said Belton. "Would
you mind telling me what has happened?"

"I can do that in a very few words," the other answered. "This cablegram
is from Trincomalee Liz, and was dispatched from Bombay yesterday. Read
it for yourself."

He handed the paper to his servant, who read it carefully, aloud:

To CARNE, Porchester House, Park Lane, London.--Bradfield left fortnight
since. Have ascertained that you are the object.

TRINCOMALEE.

"This is very serious, sir," said the other, when he had finished.

"As you say, it is very serious indeed," Carne replied. "Bradfield thinks
he has caught me at last, I suppose; but he seems to forget that it is
possible for me to be as clever as himself. Let me look at the message
again. Left a fortnight ago, did he? Then I've still a little respite. By
Jove, if that's the case, I'll see that I make the most of it."

"But surely, sir, you will leave at once," said Belton quickly. "If this
man, who has been after us so long, is now more than half way to England,
coming with the deliberate intention of running you to earth, surely,
sir, you'll see the advisability of making your escape while you have
time."

Carne smiled indulgently.

"Of course I shall escape, my good Belton," he said. "You have never
known me neglect to take proper precautions yet; but before I go I must
do one more piece of business. It must be something by the light of which
all 1 have hitherto accomplished will look like nothing. Something really
great, that will make England open its eyes as it has not done yet."

Belton stared at him, this time in undisguised amazement.

"Do you mean to tell me, sir," he said with the freedom of a privileged
servant, "that you intend to run another risk, when the only man who
knows sufficient of your career to bring you to book is certain to be in
England in less than a fortnight? I cannot believe that you would be so
foolish, sir. I beg of you to think what you are doing."

Carne, however, paid but small attention to his servant's intreaties.

"The difficulty," he said to himself, speaking his thoughts aloud, "is to
understand quite what to do. I seem to have used up all my big chances.
However, I'll think it over, and it will be strange if I don't hit upon
something. In the meantime, Belton, you had better see that preparations
are made for leaving England on Friday next. Tell the skipper to have
everything ready. We shall have done our work by that time; then hey for
the open sea and freedom from the trammels of a society life once more.
You might drop a hint or two to certain people that I am going, but be
more than careful what you say. Write to the agents about Porchester
House, and attend to all the other necessary details. You may leave me
now."

Belton bowed, and left the cabin without another word. He knew his master
sufficiently well to feel certain that neither intreaties nor
expostulations would make him abandon the course he had mapped out for
himself. That being so, he bowed to the inevitable with a grace which had
now become a habit to him.

When he was alone, Carne once more sat for upwards of an hour in earnest
thought. He then ordered his gig, and, when it was ready, set out for the
shore. Making his way to the telegraph office, he dispatched a message
which at any other, and less busy, time would have caused the operator
some astonishment. It was addressed to a Mahommedan dealer in precious
stones in Bombay, and contained only two words in addition to the
signature. They were;

"Leaving--come."

He knew that they would reach the person for whom they were intended; and
that she would understand their meaning and act accordingly.

The dinner that night on board the Imperial yacht Hohenszrallas was a
gorgeous affair in every sense of the word. All the principal yacht
owners were present, and, at the conclusion of the banquet, Carne's
health, as winner of the great event of the regatta, was proposed by the
Emperor himself, and drunk amid enthusiastic applause. It was a proud
moment for the individual in question, but bore his honours with that
quiet dignity that had stood him in such good stead on so many similar
occasions. In his speech he referred to his approaching departure from
England, and this, the first inkling of such news, came upon his audience
like a thunder-clap. When they had taken leave of his Majesty soon after
midnight, and were standing on deck, waiting for their respective boats
to draw up to the accommodation ladder, Lord Orpington made his way to
where Simon Carne was standing.

"Is it really true that you intend leaving us so soon?" he asked.

"Quite true, unfortunately," Carne replied. "I had hoped to have remained
longer, but circumstances over which I have no control make it imperative
that I should return to India without delay. Business that exercises a
vital influence upon my fortunes compels me. I am therefore obliged to
leave without fail on Friday next. I have given orders to that effect
this afternoon."

"I am extremely sorry to hear it, that's all I can say," said Lord
Amberley, who had just come up. "I assure you we shall all miss you very
much indeed."

"You have all been extremely kind," said Carne, "and I have to thank you
for an exceedingly pleasant time. But, there, let us postpone
consideration of the matter for as long as possible. I think this is my
boat. Won't you let me take you as far as your own yacht?"

"Many thanks, but I don't think we need trouble you," said Lord
Orpington. "I see my gig is just behind yours."

"In that case, good night," said Carne. "I shall see you, as arranged,
to-morrow morning, I suppose?"

"At eleven," said Lord Amberley. We'll call for you and go ashore
together. Good night."

By the time Carne had reached his yacht he had made up his mind. He had
also: hit upon a scheme, the daring of which almost frightened himself.
If only he could bring it off, he told himself, it would be indeed a
fitting climax to all he had accomplished since he had arrived in
England. Retiring to his cabin, he allowed Belton to assist him in his
preparations for the night almost without speaking. It was not until the
other was about to leave the cabin that he broached the subject that was
occupying his mind to the exclusion of all else.

"Belton," he said, "I have decided upon the greatest scheme that has come
into my mind yet. If Simon Carne is going to say farewell to the English
people on Friday next, and it succeeds, he will leave them a legacy to
think about for some time after he has gone."

"You are surely not going to attempt anything further, sir," said Belton
in alarm. "I did hope, sir, that you would have listened to my intreaties
this afternoon."

"It was impossible for me to do so," said Carne. "I am afraid, Belton,
you are a little lacking in ambition. I have noticed that on the last
three occasions you have endeavoured to dissuade me from my endeavours to
promote the healthy excitement of the English reading public. On this
occasion fortunately I am able to withstand you. To-morrow morning you
will commence preparations for the biggest piece of work to which I have
yet put my hand."

"If you have set your mind upon doing it, sir, I am quite aware that it
is hopeless for me to say anything," said Belton resignedly. "May I know,
however, what it is going to be?"

Carne paused for a moment before he replied.

"I happen to know that the Emperor of Westphalia, whose friendship I have
the honour to claim," he said, "has a magnificent collection of gold
plate on board his yacht. It is my intention, if possible, to become the
possessor of it."

"Surely that will be impossible, sir*" said Belton. "Clever as you
undoubtedly are in arranging these things, I do not see how you can do
it. A ship at the best of times is such a. public place, and they will be
certain to guard it very closely."

"I must confess that at first glance I do not quite see how it is to be
managed, but I have a scheme in my head which I think may possibly enable
me to effect my purpose. At my rate, I shall be able to tell you more
about it to-morrow. First, let us try a little experiment."

As he spoke he seated himself at his dressing-table, and bade Belton
bring him a box which had hitherto been standing in a corner. When he
opened it, it proved to be a pretty little cedar-wood affair divided into
a number of small compartments, each of which contained crepe hair of a
different colour. Selecting a small portion from one particular
compartment, he unraveled it until tie had obtained the length he wanted,
and then with dexterous fingers constructed a moustache, which he
attached with spirit gum to his upper lip. Two or three twirls gave it
the necessary curl, then with a pair of ivory-backed brushes taken from
his dressing-table he brushed his hair back in a peculiar manner, placed
a hat of uncommon shape upon his head, took a heavy boat cloak from a
cupboard near at hand, threw it round his shoulders, and, assuming an
almost defiant expression, faced Belton, and desired him to tell him whom
he resembled.

Familiar as he was with his master's marvellous power of disguise and his
extraordinary faculty of imitation, the latter could not refrain from
expressing his astonishment.

"His Imperial Majesty the Emperor of Westphalia," he said. "The likeness
is perfect."

"Good," said Carne. "From that exhibition you will gather something of my
plan. To-morrow evening, as you are aware, I am invited to meet his
Majesty, who is to dine ashore accompanied by his aide-de-camp, Count Von
Walzburg. Here is the latter's photograph. He possesses, as you know, a
very decided personality, which is all in our favour. Study it
carefully."

So saying, he took from a drawer a photograph, which he propped against
the looking-glass on the dressing-table before him. It represented a
tall, military-looking individual with bristling eyebrows, a large nose,
a heavy grey moustache, and hair of the same colour. Belton examined it
carefully.

"I can only suppose, sir," he said, "that, as you are telling me this,
you intend me to represent Count Von Walzburg."

"Exactly," said Carne. "That is my intention. It should not be at all
difficult. The Count is just your height and build. You will only need
the moustache, the eyebrows, the grey hair, and the large nose to look
the part exactly. To-morrow will be a dark night, and, if only I can
control circumstances sufficiently to obtain the chance I want,
detection, in the first part of our scheme at any rate, should be most
unlikely, if not almost impossible."

"You'll excuse my saying so, I hope, sir," said Belton, "but it seems a
very risky game to play when we have done so well up to the present."

"You must admit that the glory will be the greater, my friend, if we
succeed."

"But surely, sir, as I said just now, they keep the plate you mention in
a secure place, and have it properly guarded."

"I have made the fullest inquiries, you may be sure. It is kept in a safe
in the chief steward's cabin, and, while it is on board, a sentry is
always on duty at the door. Yes, all things considered, I should say it
is kept in a remarkably secure place."

"Then, sir, I'm still at a loss to see how you are going to obtain
possession of it."

Carne smiled indulgently. It pleased him to see how perplexed his servant
was.

"In the simplest manner possible," he said, "provided always that I can
get on board the yacht without my identity being questioned. The manner
in which we are to leave the vessel will be rather more dangerous, but
not sufficiently so to cause us any great uneasiness. You are a good
swimmer, I know, so that a hundred yards should not hurt you. You must
also have a number of stout canvas sacks, say six, prepared, and securely
attached to each the same number of strong lines; the latter must be
fifty fathoms long, and have at the end of each a stout swivel hook. The
rest--is only a matter of detail. Now, what have you arranged with regard
to matters in town?"

"I have fulfilled your instructions, sir, to the letter," said Belton. "I
have communicated with the agents who act for the owner of Porchester
House. I have caused an advertisement to be inserted in all the papers
to-morrow morning to the effect that the renowned detective, Klimo, will
be unable to meet his clients for at least a month, owing to the fact
that he has accepted an important engagement upon the Continent, which
will take him from home for that length of time. I have negotiated the
sale of the various horses you have in training, and I have also arranged
for the disposal of the animals and carriages you have now in use in
London. Ram Gafur and the other native servants at Porchester House will
come down by the midday train to-morrow, but, before they do so, they
will fulfil your instructions and repair the hole in the wall between the
two houses. I cannot think of any more, sir."

"You have succeeded admirably, my dear Belton," said Carne, "and I am
very pleased. To-morrow you had better see that a paragraph is inserted
in all the daily papers announcing the fact that it is my intention to
leave England for India immediately, on important private business. I
think that will do for to-night."

Belton tidied the cabin, and, having done so, bade his master good-night.
It was plain that he was exceedingly nervous about the success of the
enterprise upon which Carne was embarking so confidently. The latter, on
the other hand, retired to rest and slept as peacefully as if he had not
a care or an anxiety upon his mind.

Next morning he was up by sunrise, and, by the time his friends Lords
Opington and Amberley were thinking about breakfast, had put the
finishing touches to the scheme which was to bring his career in England
to such a fitting termination.

According to the arrangement entered into on the previous day, his
friends called for him at eleven o'clock, when they went ashore together.
It was a lovely morning, and Carne was in the highest spirits. They
visited the Castle together, made some purchases in the town, and then
went off to lunch on board Lord Orpington's yacht. It was well-nigh three
o'clock before Carne bade his host and hostess farewell, and descended
the gangway in order to return to his own vessel. A brisk sea was
running, and for this reason to step into the boat was an exceedingly
difficult, if not a dangerous, matter. Either he miscalculated his
distance, or he must have jumped at the wrong moment; at any rate, he
missed his footing, and fell heavily on to the bottom. Scarcely a second,
however, had elapsed before his coxswain had sprung to his assistance,
and had lifted him up on to the seat in the stern. It was then discovered
that he had been unfortunate enough to once more give a nasty twist to
the ankle which had brought him to such grief when he had been staying at
Greenthorpe Park on the occasion of the famous wedding.

"My dear fellow, I am so sorry," said Lord Orpington, who had witnessed
the accident. "Won't you come on board again? If you can't walk up the
ladder we can easily hoist you over the side."

"Many thanks," replied Carne, "but I think I can manage to get back to my
own boat. It is better I should do so. My man has had experience of my
little ailments, and knows exactly what is best to be done under such
circumstances; but it is a terrible nuisance, all the same. I'm afraid it
will be impossible for me now to be present at his Royal Highness's
dinner this evening, and I have been looking forward to it so much."

"We shall all be exceedingly sorry," said Lord Amberley. "I shall come
across in the afternoon to see how you are."

"You are very kind," said Carne, "and I shall be immensely glad to see
you if you can spare the time."

With that he gave the signal to his men to push off. By the time he
reached his own yacht his foot was so painful that it was necessary for
him to be lifted on board--a circumstance which was duly noticed by the
occupants of all the surrounding yachts, who had brought their glasses to
bear upon him. Once below in his saloon, he was placed in a comfortable
chair and left to Belton's careful attention.

"I trust you have not hurt yourself very much, sir," said that faithful
individual, who, however, could not prevent a look of satisfaction coming
into his face, which seemed to say that he was not ill-pleased that his
master would, after all, be prevented from carrying out the hazardous
scheme he had proposed to him the previous evening.

In reply, Carne sprang to his feet without showing a trace of lameness.

"My dear Belton, how peculiarly dense you are to-day," he said, with a
smile, as he noticed the other's amazement. "Cannot you see that I have
only been acting as you yourself wished I should do early this
morning-namely, taking precautions? Surely you must see that, if I am
laid up on board my yacht with a sprained ankle, society will say. that
it is quite impossible for me to be doing any mischief elsewhere. Now,
tell me, is everything prepared for to--night?"

"Everything, sir," Belton replied. "The dresses and wigs are ready. The
canvas sacks, and the lines to which the spring hooks are attached, are
in your cabin awaiting your inspection. As far as I can see, everything
is prepared, and I hope will meet with your satisfaction."

"If you are as careful as usual, I feel sure it will," said Carne. "Now
get some bandages and make this foot of mine up into as artistic a bundle
as you possibly can. After that help me on deck and prop me up in a
chair. As soon as my accident gets known there will be certain to be
shoals of callers on board, and I must play my part as carefully as
possible."

As Carne had predicted, this proved to be true. From half-past three
until well after six o'clock a succession of boats drew up at his
accommodation ladder, and the sufferer on deck was the recipient of as
much attention as would have flattered the vainest of men. He had been
careful to send a letter of apology to the illustrious individual who was
to have been his host, expressing his sincere regrets that the accident
which had so unfortunately befallen him would prevent the possibility of
his being able to be present at the dinner he was giving that evening.

Day closed in and found the sky covered with heavy clouds. Towards eight
o'clock a violent storm of rain fell, and when Carne heard it beating
upon the deck above his cabin, and reflected that in consequence the
night would in all probability be dark, he felt that his lucky star was
indeed in the ascendant.

At half-past eight he retired to his cabin with Belton in order to
prepare for the events of the evening. Never before had he paid such
careful attention to his make-up. He knew that on this occasion the least
carelessness might lead to detection, and he had no desire that his last
and greatest exploit should prove his undoing.

It was half-past nine before he and his servant had dressed and were
ready to set off. Then, placing broad-brimmed hats upon their heads, and
carrying a portmanteau containing the cloaks and headgear which they were
to wear later in the evening, they went on deck and descended into the
dinghy which was waiting for them alongside. In something under a quarter
of an hour they had been put ashore in a secluded spot, had changed their
costumes, and were walking boldly down beside the water towards the steps
where they could see the Imperial launch still waiting. Her crew were
lolling about, joking and laughing, secure in the knowledge that it would
be some hours at least before their Sovereign would be likely to require
their services again.

Their astonishment, therefore, may well be imagined when they saw
approaching them the two men whom they had only half-an-hour before
brought ashore. Stepping in and taking his seat under the shelter, his
Majesty ordered them to convey him back to the yacht with all speed. The
accent and voice were perfect, and it never for an instant struck any one
on board the boat that a deception was being practised. Carne, however,
was aware that this was only a preliminary; the most dangerous portion of
the business was yet to come.

On reaching the yacht, he sprang out on the ladder, followed by his
aide-de-camp, Von Walzburg, and mounted the steps. His disguise must have
been perfect indeed, for when he reached the deck he found himself face
to face with the first lieutenant, who, on seeing him, saluted
respectfully. For a moment Carne's presence of mind almost deserted him;
then, seeing that he was not discovered, he determined upon a bold piece
of bluff. Returning the officer's salute with just the air he had seen
the Emperor use, he led him to suppose that he had important reasons for
coming on board so soon, and, as if to back this assertion up, bade him
send the chief steward to his cabin, and at the same time have the sentry
removed from his door and placed at the end of the large saloon, with
instructions to allow no one to pass until he was communicated with
again.

The officer saluted and went off on his errand, while Carne, signing to
Belton to follow him, made his way down the companion ladder to the Royal
cabins. To both the next few minutes seemed like hours. Reaching the
Imperial state room, they entered it and closed the door behind. Provided
the sentry obeyed his orders, which there was no reason to doubt he would
do, and the Emperor himself did not return until they were safely off the
vessel again, there seemed every probability of their being able to carry
out their scheme without a hitch.

"Put those bags under the table, and unwind the lines and place them in
the gallery outside the window. They won't be seen there," said Carne to
Belton, who was watching him from the doorway. "Then stand by, for in a
few minutes the chief steward will be here. As soon as he enters you must
manage to get between him and the door, and, while I am engaging him in
conversation, spring on him, clutch him by the throat, and hold him until
I can force this gag into his mouth. After that we shall be safe for some
time at least, for not a soul will come this way until they discover
their mistake. It seems to me we ought to thank our stars that the chief
steward's cabin was placed in such a convenient position. But hush, here
comes the individual we want. Be ready to collar him as soon as I hold up
my hand. If he makes a sound we are lost."

He had scarcely spoken before there was a knock at the door. When it
opened, the chief steward entered the cabin, closing the door behind him.

"Schmidt," said his Majesty, who was standing at the further end of the
cabin, "I have sent for you in order that I may question you on a matter
of the utmost importance. Draw nearer."

The man came forward as he was ordered, and, having done so, looked his
master full and fair in the face. Something he saw there seemed to
stagger him. He glanced at him a second time, and was immediately
confirmed in his belief.

"You are not the Emperor," he cried. "There is some treachery in this. I
shall call for assistance."

He had half turned, and was about to give the alarm, when Carne held up
his hand, and Belton, who had been creeping stealthily up behind him,
threw himself upon him and had clutched him by the throat before he could
utter a sound. The fictitious Emperor immediately produced a cleverly
constructed gag and forced it into the terrified man's mouth, who in
another second was lying upon the floor bound hand and foot.

"There, my friend," said Carne quietly, as he rose to his feet a few
moments later, "I don't think you will give us any further trouble. Let
me just see that those straps are tight enough, and then we'll place you
on this settee, and afterwards get to business with all possible
dispatch."

Having satisfied himself on these points, he signed to Belton, and
between them they placed the man upon the couch.

"Let me see, I think, if I remember rightly, you carry the key of the
safe in this pocket."

So saying, he turned the man's pocket inside out and appropriated the
bunch of keys he found therein. Choosing one from, it, he gave a final
look at the bonds which secured the prostrate figure, and then turned to
Belton.

"I think he'll do," he said. "Now for business. Bring the bags, and come
with me."

So saying, he crossed the cabin, and, having assured himself that there
was no one about to pry upon them, passed along the luxuriously carpeted
alley way until he arrived at the door of the cabin, assigned to the use
of the chief steward, and in which was the safe containing the
magnificent gold plate, the obtaining of which was the reason of his
being there. To his surprise and chagrin, the door was closed and locked.
In his plans he had omitted to allow for this contingency. In all
probability, however, the key was in the man's pocket, so, turning to
Belton, he bade him return to the state room and bring him the keys he
had thrown upon the table.

The latter did as he was ordered, and, when he had disappeared, Carne
stood alone in the alley way waiting and listening to the various noises
of the great vessel. On the deck overhead he could hear someone tramping
heavily up and down, and then, in an interval of silence, the sound of
pouring rain. Good reason as he had to be anxious, he could not help
smiling as he thought of the incongruity of his position. He wondered
what his aristocratic friends would say if he were captured and his story
came to light. In his time he had impersonated a good many people, but
never before had he had the honour of occupying such an exalted station.
This was the last and most daring of all his adventures.

Minutes went by, and, as Belton did not return, Carne found himself
growing nervous. What could have become of him? He was in the act of
going in search of him, when he appeared carrying in his hand the bunch
of keys for which he had been sent. His master seized them eagerly.

"Why have you been so long?" he asked in a whisper. "I began to think
something had gone wrong with you."

"I stayed to make our friend secure," the other answered. "He had
well-nigh managed to get one of his hands free. Had he done so, he would
have had the gag out of his mouth in no time, and have given the alarm.
Then we should have been caught like rats in a trap."

"Are you quite sure he is secure now?" asked Carne anxiously.

"Quite," replied Belton. "I took good care of that."

"In that case we had better get to work on the safe without further
delay. We have wasted too much time already, and every moment is an added
danger."

Without more ado, Carne placed the most likely key in the lock and turned
it. The bolt shot back, and the treasure chamber lay at his mercy.

The cabin was not a large one, but it was plain that every precaution had
been taken to render it secure. The large safe which contained the
Imperial plate, and which it was Carne's intention to rifle, occupied one
entire side. It was of the latest design, and when Carne saw it he had to
confess to himself that, expert craftsman as he was, it was one that
would have required all his time and skill to open.

With the master key, however, it was the work of only a few seconds. The
key was turned, the lever depressed, and then, with a slight pull, the
heavy door swung forward. This done, it was seen that the interior was
full to overflowing. Gold and silver plate of all sorts and descriptions,
inclosed in bags of wash-leather and green baize, were neatly arranged
inside. It was a haul such as even Carne had never had at his mercy
before, and, now that he had got it, he was determined to make the most
of it.

"Come, Belton," he said, "get these things out as quickly as possible and
lay them on the floor. We can only carry away a certain portion of the
plunder, so let us make sure that that portion is the best."

A few moments later the entire cabin was strewn with salvers, goblets,
bowls, epergnes, gold and silver dishes, plates, cups, knives, forks, and
almost every example of the goldsmith's art. In his choice Carne was not
guided by what was handsomest or most delicate in workmanship or shape.
Weight was his only standard. Silver he discarded altogether, for it was
of less than no account. In something under ten minutes he had made his
selection, and the stout canvas bags they had brought with them for that
purpose were full to their utmost holding capacity.

"We can carry no more," said Carne to his faithful retainer, as they made
the mouth of the last bag secure. "Pick up yours and let us get back to
the Emperor's state room."

Having locked the door of the cabin, they returned to the place whence
they had started.

There they found the unfortunate steward lying just as they had left him
on the settee. Placing the bags he carried upon the ground, Carne crossed
to him and, before doing anything else, carefully examined the bonds with
which he was secured.

Having done this, he went to the stern windows, and, throwing one open,
stepped into the gallery outside. Fortunately for what he intended to do,
it was still raining heavily, and in consequence the night was as dark as
the most consummate conspirator could have desired. Returning to the
room, he bade Belton help him carry the bags into the gallery, and, when
this had been done, made fast the swivel hooks to the rings in the mouth
of each.

"Take up your bags as quietly as possible," he said, "and lower them one
by one into the water, but take care that they don't get entangled in the
propeller. When you've done that, slip the rings at the other end of the
lines through your belt, and buckle the latter tightly.''

Belton did as he was ordered, and in. a few moments the six bags were
lying at the bottom of the sea.

"Now off with these wigs and things, and say when you're ready for a
swim."

Their disguises having been discarded and thrown overboard, Carne and
Belton clambered over the rails of the gallery and lowered themselves
until their feet touched the water. Next moment they had both let go, and
were swimming in the direction of Carne's own yacht.

It was at this period of their adventure that the darkness proved of such
real service to them. By the time they had swum half a dozen strokes it
would have needed a sharp pair of eyes to distinguish them as they rose
and fell among the foam-crested waves. If, however, the storm had done
them a good turn in saving them from notice, it came within an ace of
doing them an ill service in another direction. Good swimmers though both
Carne and Belton were, and they had proved it to each other's
satisfaction in the seas of almost every known quarter of the globe, they
soon found that it took all their strength to make headway now. By the
time they reached their own craft, they were both completely exhausted.
As Belton declared afterwards, he felt as if he could not have managed
another twenty strokes even had his life depended on it.

At last, however, they reached the yacht's stern and clutched at the rope
ladder which Carne had himself placed there before he had set out on the
evening's excursion. In less time than it takes to tell he had mounted it
and gained the deck, followed by his faithful servant. They presented a
sorry spectacle as they stood side by side at the taffrail, the water
dripping from their clothes and pattering upon the deck.

"Thank goodness we are here at last," said Carne, as soon as he had
recovered his breath sufficiently to speak. "Now slip off your belt, and
hang it over this cleat with mine."

Belton did as he was directed, and then followed his master to the saloon
companion ladder. Once below, they changed their clothes as quickly as
possible, and, having donned mackintoshes, returned to the deck, where it
was still raining hard.

"Now," said Carne, "for the last and most important part of our evening's
work. Let us hope the lines will prove equal to the demands we are about
to make upon them."

As he said this, he took from the cleat upon which he had placed it one
of the belts, and, having detached a line, began to pull it in, Belton
following his example with another. Their hopes that they would prove
equal to the confidence placed in them proved well founded, for, in
something less than a quarter of an hour, the six bags, containing the
Emperor of Westphalia's magnificent gold plate, were lying upon the deck,
ready to be carried below and stowed away in the secret place in which
Carne had arranged to hide his treasure.

"Now, Belton," said Carne, as he pushed the panel back into its place,
and pressed the secret spring that locked it, "I hope you're satisfied
with what we have done. We've made a splendid haul, and you shall have
your share of it. In the meantime, just get me to bed as quickly as you
can, for I'm dead tired. When you've done so, be off to your own.
To-morrow morning you will have to go up to town to arrange with the bank
authorities about my account."

Belton did as he was ordered, and half-an-hour later his master was
safely in bed and asleep.

It was late next morning when he woke. He had scarcely breakfasted before
the Earl of Amberley and Lord Orpington made their appearance over the
side. To carry out the part he had arranged to play, he received them
seated in his deck chair, his swaddled up right foot reclining on a
cushion before him. On seeing his guests, he made as if he would rise,
but they begged him to remain seated.

"I hope your ankle is better this morning," said Lord Orpington politely,
as he took a chair beside his friend.

"Much better, thank you," Carne replied. "It was not nearly so serious as
I feared. I hope to be able to hobble about a little this afternoon. And
now tell me the news, if there is any?"

"Do you mean to say that you have not heard the great news?" asked Lord
Amberley, in a tone of astonishment.

"I have heard nothing," Carne replied. "Remember I have not been ashore
this morning, and I have been so busily engaged with the preparations for
my departure tomorrow that I have not had time to look at my papers. Pray
what is this news of which you speak with such bated breath?"

"Listen, and I'll tell you," Lord Orpington answered. "As you are aware,
last night his Imperial Majesty the Emperor of Westphalia dined ashore,
taking with him his aide-de-camp, Count Von Walzburg. They had not been
gone from the launch more than half-an-hour when, to all intents and
purposes, they reappeared, and the Emperor, who seemed much perturbed
about something, gave the order to return to the yacht with all possible
speed. It was very dark and raining hard at the time, and whoever the men
may have been who did the thing, they were, at any rate, past masters in
the art of disguise.

"Reaching the yacht, their arrival gave rise to no suspicion, for the
officers are accustomed, as you know, to his Majesty's rapid comings and
goings. The first lieutenant met them at the gangway, and declares that
he had no sort of doubt but that it was his Sovereign. Face, voice, and
manner were alike perfect. From his Majesty's behaviour he surmised that
there was some sort of trouble brewing for somebody, and, as if to carry
this impression still further, the Emperor bade him send the chief
steward to him at once, and, at the same time, place the sentry, who had
hitherto been guarding the treasure chamber, at the end of the great
saloon, with instructions to allow no one to pass him, on any pretext
whatever, until the chief steward had been examined and the Emperor
himself gave permission. Then he went below to his cabin.

"Soon after this the steward arrived, and was admitted. Something seems
to have excited the latter's suspicions, however, and he was about to
give the alarm when he was seized from behind, thrown upon the floor, and
afterwards gagged and bound. It soon became apparent what object the
rascals had in view. They had caused the sentry at the door of the
treasure chamber to be removed and placed where not only he could not
hinder them in their work, but would prevent them from being disturbed.
Having obtained the key of the room and safe from the chief steward's
pocket, they set off to the cabin, ransacked it completely, and stole all
that was heaviest and most valuable of his Majesty's wonderful plate from
the safe."

"Good gracious," said Carne. "I never heard of such a thing. Surely it's
the most impudent robbery that has taken place for many years past. To
represent the Emperor of Westphalia and his aide-de-camp so closely that
they could deceive even the officers of his own yacht, and to take a
sentry off one post and place him in such a position as to protect them
while at their own nefarious work, seems to me the very height of
audacity. But how did they get their booty and themselves away again?
Gold plate, under the most favourable circumstances, is by no means an
easy thing to carry."

As he asked this question, Carne lit another cigar with a hand as steady
as a rock.

"They must have escaped in a boat that, it is supposed, was lying under
the shelter of the stern gallery," replied Lord Amberley.

"And is the chief steward unable to furnish the police with no clue as to
their identity?"

"None whatever," replied Orpington. "He opines to the belief, however,
that they are Frenchmen. One of them, the man who impersonated the
Emperor, seems to have uttered an exclamation in that tongue."

"And when was the robbery discovered?"

"Only when the real Emperor returned to the vessel shortly after
midnight. There was no launch to meet him, and he had to get Tremorden to
take him off. You can easily imagine the surprise his arrival occasioned.
It was intensified when they went below to find his Majesty's cabin
turned upside down, the chief steward lying bound and gagged upon the
sofa, and all that was most valuable of the gold plate missing."

"What an extraordinary story!"

"And now, having told you the news with which the place is ringing, we
must be off about our business," said Orpington. "Is it quite certain
that you are going to leave us to-morrow?"

"Quite, I am sorry to say," answered Carne. "I am going to ask as many of
my friends as possible to do me the honour of lunching with me at one
o'clock, and at five I shall weigh anchor and bid England goodbye. I
shall have the pleasure of your company, I hope."

"I shall have much pleasure," said Orpington.

"And I also," replied Amberley.

"Then good-bye for the present. It's just possible I may see you again
during the afternoon."

The luncheon next day was as brilliant a social gathering as the most
fastidious in such matters could have desired. Everyone then in Cowes who
had any claim to distinction was present, and several had undertaken the
journey from town in order to say farewell to one who had made himself so
popular during his brief stay in England. When Carne rose to reply to the
toast of his health, proposed by the prime Minister, it was observable
that he was genuinely moved, as, indeed, were most of his hearers.

For the remainder of the afternoon his yacht's deck was crowded with his
friends, all of whom expressed the hope that it might not be long before
he was amongst them once more. To these kind speeches Carne invariably
offered a smiling reply.

"I also trust it will not be long," he answered. "I have enjoyed my visit
immensely, and you may be sure I shall never forget it as long as I
live."

An hour later the anchor was weighed, and his yacht was steaming out of
the harbour amid a scene of intense enthusiasm. As the Prime Minister had
that afternoon informed him, in the public interest, the excitement of
his departure was dividing honours with the burglary of the Emperor of
Westphalia's gold plate.

Carne stood beside his captain on the bridge, watching the little fleet
of yachts until his eyes could no longer distinguish them. Then he turned
to Belton, who had just joined him, and, placing his hand upon his
shoulder, said:

"So much for our life in England, Belton, my friend. It has been glorious
fun, and no one can deny that from a business point of view it has been
eminently satisfactory. You, at least, should have no regrets."

"None whatever," answered Belton. "But I must confess I should like to
know what they will say when the truth comes out."

Carne smiled sweetly as he answered:

"I think they'll say that, all things considered, I have won the right to
call myself 'A Prince of Swindlers.'"



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