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Title: A Bit Of Egypt Author: Fred M White * A Project Gutenberg Australia eBook * eBook No.: 1200881h.html Language: English Date first posted: February 2012 Date most recently updated: February 2012 This eBook was produced by: Roy Glashan Project Gutenberg Australia eBooks are created from printed editions which are in the public domain in Australia, unless a copyright notice is included. We do NOT keep any eBooks in compliance with a particular paper edition. Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the copyright laws for your country before downloading or redistributing this file. This eBook is made available at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg Australia License which may be viewed online at http://gutenberg.net.au/licence.html
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FROM Paradine's point of view—and that, after all, was the outlook that most concerned him—the tiny block of flats on Campden Hill was the breeziest and most picturesque prospect in London. For Capel Hill Court had at one time been what the auctioneers call a "desirable family residence standing in its own grounds," before the inside had been torn out and subsequently refitted with an electric lift and a commissionaire in scarlet uniform, a telephone switchboard, and what is known as "every modern convenience." The garden still remained intact, and Paradine occupied one of the pair of flats on the top floor, from the roof of which he could look down into the gardens and away over the high ground to the distant Surrey Hills. And it had been his whim to erect a tent on the flat roof, and surround himself with flowers and shrubs in imitation of the hanging gardens of Babylon. On summer evenings, when he was in the mood, he was wont to sit out there in ruminating solitude, and work out those brilliant problems of his for the benefit of suffering mankind. For Paradine was one of those fortunate individuals well endowed with this world's goods, who could afford to pick and choose in the field of surgical science—in other words, he was a brain specialist, attracted only by certain phases of cerebral disorders and diseases, or the troubles brought about by accident or catastrophe. Unless a case appealed to him, he declined to take it. He would have nothing whatever to do with the ordinary "mental" case, and turned his back resolutely upon fashionable "nerve" patients, brought about by luxurious living or that selfish introspection which is often the result of too ample means and too little healthy occupation.
It was rarely, indeed, that anybody shared Paradine's solitude on what he called his lonely mountain height. And his next-door neighbour was probably unaware of the fact that he also had an exit on the garden roof. For the next-door neighbour was no less a person than Professor Ionedes, the famous Egyptologist and recognised authority on prehistoric coinage. As a matter of fact, Paradine had hardly ever seen his neighbour, who was an elderly man of pure Greek descent, and a master of many languages. Paradine knew by repute, of course, that the flat adjacent to his contained the finest collection of gold coins in the world; he knew, too, that his neighbour was a somewhat eccentric recluse, and that he was frequently absent from London on one of his many excavating expeditions. And when Ionedes was in the metropolis, he rarely showed himself in society, he had practically no visitors, and was looked after in a perfunctory sort of way by a charwoman, who came over in the mornings to do the necessary cleaning and get the Professor's breakfast. The rest of his modest meals the great numismatist took in an obscure little restaurant in Kensington High Street. All this Paradine knew in the way of vague gossip which filtered to him from time to time through the medium of his own servants. He was aware, too, that some year or two before an attempt at burglary, doubtless with a view to the gold coins, had been made on the Professor's flat, and that since then the front door thereof had been fitted with a steel lining, beyond which it was impossible to penetrate without the possession of the master-key. All this interested Paradine quite in a languid way.
Certainly he was not thinking about it that perfect June evening, as he sat there under the shadow of his palms in a comfortable arm-chair, looking out dreamily across the gardens to the blue hills in the distance. As a matter of fact, he was working out the details of a case, the fine definite points of an operation which he had decided to make on a patient at that moment lying unconscious in a hospital off the Brompton Road. The train of thought was nearly complete, when it was rudely derailed by the sound of a noise and the heavy thud of a falling body, apparently just underneath.
Paradine jumped to his feet and looked eagerly about him. So far he could see nothing, for the well and sufficient reason that there was nothing to see. He peered down the wooden stairway which led through the water-tank in the roof of his own flat on to the ledge beyond, but he could see nothing there. He was about to return to his chair again, when he heard the heavy thud once more, coming unmistakably, or so it seemed, from the direction of the flat next door. Paradine crossed the leads and squinted through the gloomy skylight that was situated immediately over Professor Ionedes' flat. From all appearance, the glass skylight had not been touched for years, for the panes were dusty and grimy, and the woodwork fitted into the roof almost as if it had been fixed there. Paradine told himself that it was no business of his, before he recollected that the Professor was quite alone, that he was elderly, and that something might have happened to him. If this was the case, and the front door was closed, then it would be impossible for anyone to enter from the outside in the ordinary way. Reflecting on this, and the necessity for something to be done at once, Paradine bent down and devoted all his energies to raising the skylight. It gave way presently with a sudden jerk, and Paradine found himself looking down through the water-tank into a small sort of store-room below, which appeared to be empty, save for a few packing-cases and something that looked like a human form sprawling on the floor. There was no ladder leading from the roof into the room below. If there had been one, the Professor would probably have had it removed. As Paradine's eyes became accustomed to the same gloom, he saw the figure down there gradually raise itself, and a white, pleasant-looking face was turned eagerly upwards.
"What are you doing there?" Paradine asked.
"Well, I hardly know," the stranger replied. "Who do you happen to be, anyway?"
"Isn't it for me to ask questions?" Paradine said dryly. "I happen to be the occupant of one of these top flats. My name is Paradine, at your service."
"Very pleased to hear it," the man at the bottom of the shaft said thankfully. "If you wouldn't mind reaching down and giving me a hand, I'll come up and explain."
"Well, I think not. Not just at present, anyway. You see, I happen to be top dog for the moment, and, until you can convince me that my policy is wrong, I propose to remain so. You see, I know something of Professor Ionedes, on whose premises you are at the present moment, and, frankly, my dear friend, appearances are decidedly against you. Now, Professor Ionedes lives entirely alone; he is an old man, with a rooted aversion to visitors, which is, perhaps, inspired by the fact that his flat is full of gold coins, which take up little space, and are always worth their face value in the precious metal. Moreover, I know that no one could leave that flat without the Professor's sanction when once the steel-lined front door is closed. Therefore, when I find a stranger—even a well-dressed stranger with a charming manner like yours— attempting to leave the flat by such a dubious method as the skylight, my suspicions are naturally aroused. For all I know to the contrary, you may have murdered that picturesque old numismatist for the sake of his coins, and found yourself in a trap afterwards. Such being the case, I must decline."
"For Heaven's sake, listen to me!" the other man burst out. "I am not going to deny that part of what you say is true. I am not going to deny that I am cut off here, and that I am trying to escape by means of the skylight. I piled up some of these cases on the floor, and, when I was balancing myself on the top of them, the whole contraption collapsed and let me down badly. That was the noise that you heard. But when you accuse me of murdering the Professor, then you are talking absolute nonsense. As a matter of fact, he's not in the flat at all. I came here this evening to see him by appointment, and, after ringing the bell two or three times, a man came to the door."
"What sort of a man?" Paradine asked.
"A tall, dark chap getting on in life, with black hair and beard. When I explained my business to him, he asked me into the dining-room, and told me that the Professor would see me in a few minutes. Then he put some fez arrangement on his head and walked out of the flat, banging the front door behind him. I waited a quarter of an hour, and, after ringing the bell two or three times, it dawned upon me that something was wrong. So I started to explore the flat, and found that the place was absolutely empty. There wasn't a soul on the premises, either in the bed- or living-rooms. And when I tried to get out, and spotted that steel-lined door, with its spring lock, I knew that I had been trapped by some thief whom I had probably interrupted when I rang the front-door bell. I knew then that I was in a tight place, and when I found that one of the Professor's most valuable coin cabinets had been broken open, I was aware of my danger. When I recovered myself, I cast about for some means of escape. I knew I shouldn't be believed, I knew that I should be accused of taking what was missing from the cabinet, and that's why I hit upon the desperate expedient of getting away by the medium of the roof, and trusting myself to reach the street through the help of another flat, without being discovered. And that's the Gospel truth. Perhaps, if you weren't wearing a Bullingdon Club tie I shouldn't have the courage to tell you this."
"Oh, you were at Oxford, too?" Paradine asked.
"I was. Name of Felton."
"Not the Jimmy Felton?"
"The same, worst 1uck to it. And, now I come to look at you, I see a strong likeness to the chap that we used to call Tomahawk Paradine. Am I right?"
"I've heard worse guesses," Paradine said. "But look here, I can't take your word for all this, you know. You may have gone to pot, for all I know to the contrary. You might have taken to burglary as a profession."
"Oh, yes, I can see all that, of course. But I'm telling you the truth, Paradine. If you don't believe me, come down and see for yourself. Bring a revolver with you, if you like. Anyway, you won't find the Professor here."
Paradine weakened suddenly.
"All right," he said. "I'll take your word for it. Now, hold out your hand, and I'll give you a leg up."
The man called Felton scrambled to the roof with a sigh of relief, and sank breathlessly into an arm-chair. He availed himself generously of Paradine's invitation to sample the contents of the tantalus, and lighted a cigarette.
"Don't you want to go over the flat," he asked, "and satisfy yourself that the aged Professor is not weltering in his own gore? In other words, are you satisfied?"
"Well, partly," Paradine said. "If there had been any violence, you would not be sitting in that chair talking to me in this collected way. If there is anything wrong, you would be only too anxious to get away."
A deep groan burst from Felton's lips.
"As a matter of fact, I am in no end of a hole," he said, " and I want you to help me out, if you can. In fact, no one else can save me; and, upon my word, I don't believe even you can when the truth comes to be told."
"Let's have it," Paradine said encouragingly.
"Well, it's like this. I also am a collector of coins in a modest sort of way, and, without flattery, there are only two men in the world who know more of what I might call pre-numismatism than I do. Professor Ionedes is one, and a queer sort of semi-Arab Johnny called Ali Khan is the other. I have never met Ali Khan, but, in the light of events during the past hour or two, if he isn't the chap who let me into old Ionedes' flat, then I'll eat him, fez and all! But I'm getting on a bit too fast. Do you know anything about coins, Paradine?"
"Nothing whatever, I am sorry to say."
"Then I'd better explain. Now, I suppose Professor Ionedes' collection is absolutely complete as regards the gold coins extant before the beginning of the Christian Era. Ionedes has every one of the coins. There is only one gold piece that he lacked up to a year ago, and this he found in a mummy case whilst exploring in Egypt a few months back. He was exploring the same pyramid that Ali Khan was working on—in fact, they were both looking for that particular medallion that has been a tradition amongst numismatists for generations. And the Professor found it. Ali Khan said that the Greek found it before it was lost— in other words, they were both on the same track, and the Arab was beaten by a short head—a matter of seconds, I believe it was. Anyway, there was a fierce quarrel that nearly ended in physical violence. You will see why I tell you all this presently."
"Go on," Paradine said encouragingly.
"Well, the coin in question is called a Di-Drachma. It is a small gold disc with the figure of a turtle on the obverse side, and on the reverse a design that is not unlike the fifth proposition of the first book of Euclid. It is a Lydian coin, and, experts say, the first token in gold ever struck in the world. When I tell you that there is no mention of coinage throughout the whole of the poems of Homer, you will be able to get some idea of the age of the coin. It was probably struck by Pheilon of Argos in B.C. 895. I don't know what the turtle means, but it is a symbol of some kind, of course. And this is the coin that numismatists have been trying to find for ages. And Ionedes has it, beyond the shadow of a doubt. When I say has it, I ought to have said had it, because it is no longer in his collection."
"How do you know that?" Paradine asked.
"Because it's gone, my boy, vanished— stolen from its place in the drawer by that blackguard Ali Khan, who opened the flat door for me, and subsequently shut me in. I told you that, when I found out how I had been trapped, I went all over the flat and found, amongst other things, that one of the Professor's cabinets had been forced open. In the space amongst the Lydian coins which was obviously reserved for the precious Di-Drachma in the cabinet was nothing but a pad of cotton-wool, and therefore I came to the conclusion that I had interrupted Ali Khan just at the moment when he had laid his hand upon the coveted coin. The old rascal was cunning enough, when he saw how the land lay, to make a clever exit, and leave me to face the infuriated Professor when he came back. Of course, he would swear point-blank that he had never seen me before, that he had never been in Ionedes' flat, and that my story is an absolute fraud. Now you see the position Fate has placed me in, and why I was so anxious to crawl out of the flat at any risk. But, of course, things can't stay as they are, and, at the same time, nobody would accept my explanation. Nothing would convince the Professor that I haven't stolen his Di-Drachma and cunningly hidden it till it was safe for me to go and pick up the beastly thing again."
"In fact, couldn't be worse," Paradine suggested.
"Oh, couldn't it? That's all you know about it. It can be a jolly lot worse. Look here!"
With which Felton produced from his pocket a roughly-cast gold coin of small size, bearing on one side the imprint of a turtle and on the other that of an irregular parallelogram. This he handed over for Paradine's inspection.
"This is the genuine Di-Drachma he said. "There can be no shadow of a doubt as to its authenticity."
"Then you did steal it, after all," Paradine exclaimed. "In that case, why did you tell me "
"Here, half a minute, old man. I am only proving to you how it can be ever so much worse than you thought, because that coin belongs to me, and I had it in my pocket when I called on the Professor this evening. What do you think of that?"
"Well, frankly, I don't, believe you," Paradine said bluntly. "Dash it, man, you can't expect me to swallow a story like that. You tell me that there is only one Di-Drachma in the world, and then you calmly produce another from your pocket, like a conjuror juggling with a couple of rabbits. And, moreover, you tell me that the original gold token has recently been stolen from the Professor's flat. My dear fellow, what particular brand of ass do you take me for?"
"I knew you'd talk like that," Felton said resignedly. "But don't forget that I voluntarily produced the coin which is in your hand. I wasn't bound to do it, you know. I could have gone away without your being any the wiser on the subject. But, because you have trusted me, I have put all the cards in this exceedingly complicated game on the table."
"That's true enough," Paradine admitted.
"Very well, then. Now, perhaps, you will let me go on. I bought that coin, strange as it may seem, from a little general shop in a back street leading off Theobald's Road. I bought it about a week ago. It is a tiny shop, where they sell dilapidated second-hand furniture and cast-off wardrobes and things of that sort—a dirty, dingy little place, where obviously the proprietor was struggling hard for a bare living. In fact, there was a sale going on at the time, under distress for rent. I happened to be passing by, and I looked in, and in a box of rubbish, tokens and cast-off medals, I lighted on that coin. To make a long story short, I bought the whole lot for half-a-crown. Oh, it's a genuine Di-Drachma, right enough, and you can imagine my delight when I discovered the value of my treasure. As soon as I had satisfied myself that it was genuine, I wrote to Professor Ionedes, and asked him if I might be allowed to have a sight of his famous Lydian token. Of course, I didn't mention what I had got, and in the course of a day or two I had a post-card from him, asking me to call upon him this evening at six o'clock. In the light of what I told you, it is quite evident that he forgot all about the appointment, or, what is much more probable, he was lured away from his flat by that scoundrel Ali Khan, who had all his preparations made for the robbery, which' he successfully accomplished. The rest you know. And now you can believe me or not, as you please. I admit everything is against me, I don't suppose that I shall be able to produce the man from whom I purchased that disc—he is probably lost sight of by this time—but I have told you my story, and I am going to ask you to help me all you can. What do you suggest I'd better do?"
"Oh, I don't know," Paradine said. "Are you prepared to leave this token in my hands?"
"Certainly, if you like. But what do you gain by that?"
"Well, it's a guarantee of your bona fides, for one thing. This matter will take some thinking over. You'd better give me your address where I can write to you, and I'll see the Professor for you in the morning. If we do anything in a hurry, the worst construction will be put upon it, and you may find yourself answering a charge at Bow Street. You leave it to me. I dare say I shall think of something."
But morning found Paradine still in two moods, and it was nearly lunch-time before his housekeeper came to him with an intimation that a gentleman wished to see him. In his dining-room he found a little man with nice manners and much politeness, who introduced himself as Inspector Close, from Scotland Yard, coupled with the information, pleasantly conveyed, that he was armed with a search warrant, and that he proposed to go over the flat, with a view to finding a gold coin which was missing from the residence of Professor Ionedes next door.
"I must tell you, Mr. Paradine," he said, "that this is a most unpleasant business, and I am bound to tell you, moreover, that, unless I am satisfied, I have a further warrant for your own arrest. But no doubt—"
"It can't be done," Paradine exclaimed. "I've got a most important consultation at five o'clock this afternoon, in connection with a patient who is lying dangerously hurt in a private hospital off the Brompton Road. I am a brain specialist, as you know, and the whole thing was fixed up on the telephone only half an hour ago."
Inspector Close smiled as the god in the car might have done. It was not a pleasant smile.
"It might be done," he said thoughtfully, "but it rests entirely with yourself. The Professor doesn't want to prosecute, if he can help it, and he is prepared to listen to any story, however improbable, if he gets his missing disc back. You see, it's like this, sir. Nobody can get into the Professor's flat without his own key, which is never out of his possession. He went out yesterday afternoon, intending to return at six o'clock, and when he came back, after being detained, he let himself into the empty flat, the door of which was properly closed, and evidently had been untampered with. Despite this fact, a cabinet had been forced open, and a unique coin extracted—in fact, the only specimen of that coin in the world. The Professor promptly telephoned to Scotland Yard, and I was sent round to investigate. It did not take me many minutes to discover that the flat had been entered through the skylight by someone who obviously had access to the roof. Now, your flat alone gives access to the roof, and the thief must have used your flat for the purpose of the robbery—in fact, it could have taken place in no other way. But, of course, if you can prove your innocence "
The detective shrugged his shoulders and paused eloquently. Paradine stood there, trying to grasp the points of this new and unexpected situation. It was all the more complicated by the fact that at that very moment he had the Di-Drachma in his waistcoat pocket. Nothing would be gained by the detective searching the flat, he knew, but if the officer of the law insisted upon taking him round to Bow Street, then the murder would be out, and nothing could prevent him standing his trial on a charge of stealing the coin. Just at that moment he was regretting at the bottom of his heart that the goddess of Chance had brought him in contact with Felton. For the next minute or two he did some pretty quick thinking, then he plunged his hand into his pocket and produced the gold coin.
"Is this what you are looking for?" he asked. "Because, if you're in search of a gold Di-Drachma, then this is one, beyond the shadow of a doubt. I don't know whether you would like to listen to my explanation or not—probably you would not believe it in any case—so, if you want me to accompany you as far as Bow Street, I am quite prepared to do so. But I must say that I have never been inside Professor Ionedes' flat, and that I decline for the moment to say how that coin came into my possession. Perhaps, on the whole, for the moment I had better say nothing. I am thinking at the present moment more about that case of mine. Now, if I am charged with that robbery, is it possible for me to get bail? I only mean till to-morrow morning, because I must go down to Brompton Road, as a human life probably hangs on my attendance."
"I think that will be all right, sir," Close said. "There could be no possible objection on the part of the police to accept bail for the appearance of so well-known a gentleman as yourself. I suggest that you write a note to a friend or two, asking them to come round to Bow Street this afternoon, and I will see that the notes are delivered. Probably, when Professor Ionedes gets his coin back, he will not be disposed to prosecute, in which case you will hear no more of the matter."
It was four o'clock in the afternoon before Paradine emerged from the seclusion of a whitewashed cell into the open air, accompanied by two indignant scientists of his acquaintance and an apologetic groveller in the person of Felton, who offered to do anything up to suicide, if by so sacrificing himself he could put matters straight. So far, nothing had been seen or heard of the Professor, and it was quite uncertain as to whether he would turn up in the morning to substantiate his charge or not, though Inspector Close was of the opinion that, as he had got his coin back, nothing further would be heard of the matter. Paradine listened calmly enough.
"Oh, don't worry me," he said to the distracted Felton. "If I hadn't been a good-natured fool, I should never have found myself in this mess. And, besides, I've got other things to think about. I must be off to Brompton Road now, in any case. If you want to help, the best thing you can do is to go plunging around and see if you can hit upon the track of that picturesque Arab who has been the cause of all the mischief."
With which, Paradine dismissed the whole thing from his mind, and made his way as promptly as possible in the direction of the Brompton Road and the private hospital there. For the moment, at any rate, he had put the whole of the trouble out of his mind, and was thinking of nothing else besides the interesting case which was waiting his attention. A flippant-minded surgeon, with a watch in his hand, met Paradine on the doorstep.
"You're a nice chap," he said. "I've been waiting for you for a couple of hours, with my own patients performing solos on the telephone every two minutes. Been lunching at the Carlo, I suppose, or something equally important.'*
"Weil, not precisely," Paradine said grimly. "Here, sit down and tell me all about it."
"He's a foreigner," the other man said. "Picturesque, middle-aged ruffian with a black beard. He was knocked down last night, somewhere in Kensington, by a motor lorry, and taken to St. Jacob's. The house-surgeon there saw that it was a case for you, and telephoned to know if he should send the chap round here. So they brought him on a motor ambulance, and he is upstairs at the present moment. I've been all over him myself, but for the life of me I can't find anything wrong anywhere. There are no bones broken and no signs of a fracture, but the man's unconscious and absolutely paralysed. The funny thing is that his colour is quite good, and his pulse and heart quite normal. And now I must be off."
It was quite a couple of hours later before Paradine had completed his diagnosis of the unfortunate patient. He was an elderly man, with clean-cut features and square, fighting jaw, an Eastern beyond question, as his swarthy complexion and black eyes testified. Paradine was not easily puzzled, but for a long time the source of the trouble baffled him. Then he went over all the ground again, and presently the frown lifted from his forehead, and he smiled.
"Ah, here it is," he said, turning to one of the nurses who was holding his instruments. "A small matter enough, but quite sufficient. There has been an injury to the spine right at the base of the brain, a minute displacement of the vertebrae. There's a hole there you can put your finger into. The brain itself is untouched."
"Are you going to operate?" the nurse asked.
"Perfectly useless," Paradine replied. "If that poor fellow moves half an inch, he will be dead. I can remove things, but no surgeon ever yet could replace an injured bit of spine. He is literally hanging on a thread. As I said just now, as soon as he moves he's done for. You'd better go through his belongings and communicate with his friends. Were there any letters or anything of that kind on him?"
"They are on the table there," the nurse explained—"one or two letters, evidently from some scientific society in the East, together with a watch and chain and a purse and a little case with a gold coin in it."
Paradine reached over eagerly and grabbed the shabby little leather case that lay on the table. He threw back the lid with trembling fingers, and there before his astonished and delighted eyes he saw a Di-Drachma. There was no doubt about it; the thing had been burnt too deeply in his memory for him to make a mistake. There it lay, with the imprint of a turtle on the one side and the crude mathejnatical design on the other. Beyond the shadow of a doubt, by sheer good luck Paradine had found the stolen medallion, and was looking down into the unconscious eyes of the thief himself. For beyond question Ali Khan was lying on the bed there, stricken down with mortal illness, no doubt inflicted upon him at the very moment when he was hurrying off from the Professor's flat with his ill-gotten gain.
Five minutes later Paradine had called up Felton on the telephone, and was hurrying back homewards as fast as a taxi could carry him. He had hardly rid himself of his glossy hat and immaculate morning coat before a pale and dishevelled Felton fell headlong into the dining-room.
"Mean to say you've found him?" he gasped.
"I have," Paradine said, " and only just in time, too. It was a bit of sheer good luck. And upon my word, after all that has happened, I think we deserve it. As I told you this afternoon, when we were leaving Bow Street, I had a most important appointment at a private hospital in Brompton Road—a foreigner knocked down in Kensington High Street and seriously injured by a motor lorry. I went to see if an operation would be any good; but the patient was past all that kind of thing, and it's any odds he's dead by this time. I told the nurse in charge that I could do no good, and advised her to communicate with the man's friends. She showed me his letters and belongings, and also told me that he had been possessed of an old gold coin that he carried in a leather case. As I am particularly interested just now in old gold coins, I asked to see it. Here it is. I took the liberty of bringing it away with me, and if it isn't the Professor's missing Di-Drachma, then I am cruelly mistaken. What do you say?"
"Beyond the shadow of a doubt," Felton cried. "What blind good fortune that you should have been called in to attend the actual thief! Oh, that's the coin all right. Then I suppose the next thing is to go and see the Professor, and convince him that he has got my coin, and that this is his. He won't believe it unless we produce the actual token. So let's get along and finish it without delay."
It was some little time before the suspicious Professor, doubtless with the fear of violence before his eyes, consented to open his front door wide enough to admit the two intruders, and, indeed, he would probably have refused then had not Paradine produced the second coin and dangled it before his astonished and crestfallen gaze.
"Yes," he said, "that is a genuine Di-Drachma all right. And I thought that there was only one of them in the world—I mean the stolen one, which is now safe in my cabinet again. But please come inside, gentlemen, and let us talk this matter over."
At the end of half an hour the Professor expressed himself satisfied, though he still looked uncomfortable and ill at ease as he made the necessary exchange of coins, and, with a reluctance which he made no effort to conceal, handed Felton's property over to him.
"I suppose that that rascally Arab must in some way have obtained an impression of the key of my front door," he said, "otherwise I cannot account for the way in which he got into my flat. It is an extraordinary story altogether, and, but for the evidence in Mr. Felton's hands, I would never have believed it. To think that two of those coins were in existence! And the worst of it is that the value of mine is depreciated at least one half by the fact that there is a counterpart. Only a numismatist like Mr. Felton can understand my feelings. Now, Mr. Felton, I'm a rich man, and able to gratify my whims. Shall we say five thousand pounds for your Di-Drachma?"
"Done!" Felton said promptly. "It's yours."
It was a highly delighted Felton who followed Paradine into his flat a few minutes later.
"Funny story, isn't it?" he said. "Pity it can't be written, isn't it?"
"Nobody'd believe it if you did," Paradine replied, "and, if you ask me, you are jolly well out of it."
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